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Cryptosporidiosis

What is Crypto?
How is Crypto spread?
What are the symptoms of Crypto?
Why do swimming pools have to close in response to Crypto?
How does the super-chlorination process work at pools?
Besides chlorination, is there anything pool operators can do to prevent the spread of this disease?
What can child care providers do to prevent the spread of Crypto?
If someone has symptoms of Crypto, how can he/she be tested to confirm the disease?
What is the treatment for Crypto?
How common is Crypto?
Where can I go for more information?

What is Crypto?
Cryptosporidiosis, commonly referred to as Crypto, is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium.
 
How is Crypto spread?Swimmers
Crypto is spread the following ways:

What are the symptoms of Crypto?
Symptoms of Crypto include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms may begin two to 10 days after a person becomes infected with Crypto. Crypto infections usually last about one to two weeks.

Why do swimming pools have to close in response to Crypto?
During the outbreak of 2011, the Health Department worked with pools to help prevent further spread of the disease. If someone was diagnosed with Crypto and had swam in a local pool, the Health Department asked the pool to close temporarily. While closed, the pool operators were required to raise the chlorine levels to a point that will kill off the Crypto parasite. This measure was in place to help prevent further spread of Crypto through swimming pools, and keep patrons at local pools from being exposed to the parasite.

Residents should avoid swimming in public pools if they were sick with a diarrhea illness for at least two weeks after recovering.
This measure helps the Health Department prevent more cases.

How does the super-chlorination process work at pools?
Unfortunately, the Cryptosporidium parasite is not killed by chlorine in pools at normal levels (usually 1 to 3.5 parts per million). In super-chlorination, the level of chlorine is increased and left at that level for several hours. The pool is closed to the public during this process. Once the chlorine levels have returned to normal levels, the pool can be opened to the public.
 
Besides chlorination, is there anything pool operators can do to prevent the spread of this disease?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of six steps to avoid the spread of any water-borne illnesses:

  1. Please don’t swim when you have diarrhea
  2. Please don’t swallow pool water
  3. Please practice good hygiene. Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or after changing diapers.
  4. Please take your child on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  5. Please change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside.
  6. Please wash your child thoroughly, especially the rear end with soap and water before swimming.

What can child care providers do to prevent the spread of Crypto?
One of the main ways that Crypto can be spread from person to person is through diaper changing and poor hand washing. The Health Department recommends child care providers exclude children from child care until they have been free of diarrhea for 24 hours.

If someone has symptoms of Crypto, how can he/she be tested to confirm the disease?
A test can be done by a health care provider.

What is the treatment for Crypto?
The CDC recommends that the drug nitazoxanide be used for treatment of diarrhea caused by Crypto, but your health care provider can determine the best method of treatment. If you have diarrhea, remember to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Rapid loss of fluids from diarrhea may be especially dangerous for babies.

How common is Cryto?
In 2012, 14 cases of Crypto in Northern Kentucky were reported to the Health Department. An outbreak of Crypto occurred in 2011. Between June 1 and November 8 of that year, 130 cases of Crypto were reported.
 
Where can I go for more information?
For more information on Crypto, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website or call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.
 
Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention