La Crosse County health officials report experiencing an increase in reported Cryptosporidiosis cases. La Crosse County has had 4 cases of cryptosporidiosis during the past 2 weeks according to Carol Drury, RS, Environmental Health Manager with the La Crosse County Health Department.
Four additional cases have been reported statewide associated with exposure from La Crosse County. The Health Department has identified that the cases have occurred among children and adults.
Public Health/Environmental Health staff are working to prevent further spread by contacting infected persons, recommending treatment and hygiene practices per guidelines from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
“You can help,” Drury states, “by being aware that Cryptosporidiosis is occurring and by taking simple measures to reduce your risk.” Prevention measures include: avoiding sick animals, wearing protective outer clothing and boots when visiting farms, and washing your hands immediately after interacting with animals (at farms, petting zoos at festivals- farmers markets – libraries, and field trips). Drury notes that these measures are especially important during the spring and summer seasons when people are more likely to visit local farms and animal displays at fairs and other events.
All people are at risk from cryptosporidiosis. It is caused by a protozoan parasite that is shed in the feces of domestic animals and humans, causing profuse watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping. It can also be accompanied by nausea, loss of appetite, headache and fever.
It can be acquired from contaminated drinking water, drinking raw milk, from animal to person, or from person to person via food handling. Proper and immediate handwashing is of utmost importance to interrupt the cycle of transmission!
Infected individuals can shed the parasite in their stool for several weeks, making “persons with the greatest potential to transmit the organism infected persons who have diarrhea, persons who are incontinent of stool, persons with poor personal hygiene, and diapered children.”