Jun 29, 2015

Dr. Gellner: You see the signs at the pool not to swim if you've had diarrhea, and there's a good reason. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner and on The Scope today we'll talk about cryptosporidiosis.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering The Healthy Kid Zone with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope. Dr. Gellner:

Dr. Gellner: Swimming season is here and with that, the start of cryptosporidiosis, or crypto season, has arrived. It begins usually around Memorial Day and continues through Labor Day. From 2010 to 2014, between 64 and 198 cases of crypto have been reported each year in Utah. Cases peak in the summer and early fall months. Peak infection rates typically occur among the young, although anyone can get it. Common exposures reported by Utah residents include recreational water like pools, splash pads, hot tubs, water parks, lakes and streams.

So what is cryptosporidiosis? This is an illness caused by parasites that live in the soil, food and water. It may also be on surfaces that have been contaminated with waste. While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, water - drinking water and recreational water - is the most common way.

Cryptosporidium is difficult to get rid of because it's resistant to many chlorine-based disinfectants and cannot be effectively removed by many filters. Crypto can also survive in the environment for many months at varying temperatures, though it can be destroyed by freezing or boiling.

Cryptosporidium is the leading cause of water-borne disease among humans in the United States and can become life threatening to immunocompromised persons without proper treatment. Symptoms appear one to fourteen days after exposure with an average incubation period of seven days. Symptoms mainly include diarrhea, feeling very fatigued, abdominal pain and nausea. If crypto is suspected it is important to remind patients to avoid swimming while ill and for up to two weeks after their diarrhea has ended, as they can still be shedding the disease and spreading it to others. Cryptosporidiosis can be prevented by practicing good hygiene and avoiding swallowing water from the pools, recreational water parks, lakes and streams. This is one reason they ask people to take showers before they get into the pool. Cryptosporidiosis is a reportable condition in Utah and should be reported within three business days after it is identified. Most public pools test their water for crypto frequently, and if detected they close to decontaminate the pool. The Health Department tracks these very carefully.

There are many other viruses that cause similar symptoms during the summer. If you suspect your child has crypto, your pediatrician can order a stool study to detect it. In most healthy patients the treatment for cryptosporidiosis is supportive care, ensuring good hydration. If your child is immunocompromised and they cannot handle illnesses, please make sure that your pediatrician is aware of this. If you have any questions about diarrheal illnesses over the summer, please contact your child's pediatrician.

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