NSW Health is urging people suffering from diarrhea to avoid swimming pools for at least two weeks after recovery, as cryptosporidium infections are on the rise in NSW.

Cryptosporidium/CDC
Cryptosporidium/CDC

There have been 149 cases of cryptosporidiosis in December to date with over half the cases occurring in children under the age of 10 years old.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, some 53 cases were detected in Sydney’s metropolitan, including 17 in northern Sydney, 12 in south eastern Sydney, 11 in Nepean Blue Mountains areas, six in south-western Sydney, four in western Sydney and three in the city.

Another 52 cases were detected in the Hunter New England area.

Director of Health Protection NSW, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis linked to pools had occurred several times in NSW in past years, with the biggest outbreak in 1998, when more than 1,000 cases were confirmed.

“Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a parasitic infection of the intestine that is easily spread in swimming pools and from person to person or, less commonly, via drinking contaminated water or handling infected animals,” Dr McAnulty said.

“The most common symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and sometimes fever, nausea and vomiting. There is no specific treatment for the condition and symptoms may last a few weeks in some people.

“Only a very small proportion of people are ever diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, as diagnosis requires a stool test through a doctor. So anyone with the symptoms should help protect other swimmers by staying out of pools for at least two weeks after the diarrhea has stopped.”

NSW Health recommends everyone, including parents of young children, do the following to avoid contamination of pools and splash parks:

  • Do not swim, or allow  children with diarrhea to swim, in a pool for at least two weeks after diarrhea resolves
  • Take children on bathroom breaks often
  • Ensure children who are not toilet-trained wear waterproof tight-fitting pants over swimmers
  • Change nappies in a bathroom and not at the poolside as germs can spread to surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness
  • Wash  children thoroughly (especially on the bottom) with soap and water before going swimming
  • Wash hands with soap and water after changing a child’s nappy.

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