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North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

NCHD Urges Residents to protect against Crypto

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Cases of Cryptosporidium Continue to Rise

North Central Health District (NCHD) Epidemiologists warn district residents to protect themselves and their community against Cryprosporidium (Crypto) as confirmed cases of the parasite increase. From July 31 to Aug. 31, confirmed cases of Crypto in NCHD’s 13-county district jumped from 4 to 60.

NCHD Epidemiologists stress the need for those affected by Crypto to fight the spread of the parasite to others. Anyone infected with Crypto must wait at least 2 weeks after symptoms disappear before entering a pool, waterpark or other recreational-water area to avoid spreading the parasite to others. Whether it is a public or private water area, anyone who has experienced or is experiencing symptoms of Crypto should stay out until symptoms have been gone for 2 weeks.

“We know everyone wants to take advantage of the Summer weather to enjoy their local pool or water park,” said Amber Erickson, NCHD Epidemiologist. “With the increase in confirmed cases of Cryptosporidium in the past weeks, everyone should know the risks involved with using a pool and other recreational-water facilities. We ask that anyone that may be infected to stay out of the water.”

Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, is a parasite that can be found in water, food, soil or on surfaces or dirty hands that have been contaminated with the feces of infected humans or animals infected. Once it enters a person’s body, they may begin to exhibit gastrointestinal discomfort. The parasite is the leading cause of waterborne illness among people in the U.S.

Once infected with Crypto, a person may begin experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and fever. These symptoms can appear between 2 and ten days after the initial infection and can last from 1 to 2 weeks. Crypto can continue to spread from an infected person 2 weeks after symptoms disappear.

“Anyone who thinks they may have Crypto should contact their healthcare provider and get tested,” said Erickson. “Once a person is confirmed to have Crypto, they can begin to take precautions against spreading it to their family members or anyone else in our community.”

Crypto is spread in a variety of ways, but one of the most common methods of transmission is swallowing water containing the parasite. This includes water from swimming pools, fountains, lakes, rivers or any other untreated water source. Crypto can survive for long periods of time in chlorinated drinking or swimming pool water. The parasite can also spread by consuming or drinking food or liquid contaminated by feces of infected people or touching your mouth with contaminated hands.

You can help stop the spread of Crypto by protecting yourself and children while swimming. Do not enter a swimming pool if you feel ill and have diarrhea. Do not allow children with diarrhea to enter a pool. When swimming in a pool with children, make sure they take bathroom breaks every hour. If swimming with infants, check diapers every 30 minutes to an hour. Do not swallow any water in swimming pools, lakes, or any other source that may be contaminated. You can also protect yourself by practicing proper handwashing. Make sure to use soap and hot water; alcohol-based hand sanitizers will not effectively kill Crypto.

For more information about Cryptosporidium, visit cdc.gov/parasites/crypto. To access the Public Health epidemiology survey and report cases of Crypto, visit http://sendss.state.ga.us/survey/form/9038.

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