Outbreaks of diarrhea caused by summertime parasite increased from 2009 through 2017

July 2, 2019

A recent press release states, outbreaks of Cryptosporidium (Crypto) in the United States increased an average 13 percent each year from 2009-2017, according to a report published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Crypto, a parasite, is spread through the poop of infected humans or animals. People can get sick after they swallow the parasite in contaminated water or food or after contact with infected people or animals. Crypto is the leading cause of disease outbreaks in the U.S. linked to water, specifically outbreaks linked to pools or water playgrounds.

The report describes 444 outbreaks reported from 2009 through 2017, resulting in 7,465 people becoming sick, 287 hospitalizations, and one death.

·        Thirty-five percent of the outbreaks were linked to treated swimming water.

·         Fifteen percent were linked to contact with cattle, particularly calves who were still nursing.

·         Thirteen percent were linked to contact with infected people in childcare settings.

·         Three percent were linked to drinking raw milk or apple cider.

Improvements in testing patients for Crypto in recent years might be contributing to increased detection of outbreaks.

Crypto is protected by an outer shell that makes it tough to kill. Crypto can easily cause outbreaks because it only takes a few germs to make someone sick, and there can be millions of Crypto germs in poop. Someone sick with Crypto can have diarrhea for up to three weeks.

Outbreaks caused by Crypto occur most commonly in the summer. Follow these effective steps to protect yourself and others this summer and year-round:

·         Do not swim or let kids swim if they have diarrhea.

·         If diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, do not swim until two weeks after diarrhea completely stops.

·         Do not swallow the water you swim in.

·         Keep kids sick with diarrhea at home and away from childcare.

·         Wash your hands with soap and water after coming in contact with animals or anything in their environment, especially animal poop.

·         Remove shoes worn in the animal environments before going inside your home.

·         If you drink milk or apple cider, only buy if it has been pasteurized.

CDC has more information