In a follow-up to a story published in August, “Tampa Bay area has seen dramatic increase in ‘crypto’ cases this summer“, the Hillsborough County Health Department (DOH-Hillsborough) is asking the public help in stopping the spread of cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic disease that is easily spread person-to-person in households, child-care settings and schools, through swimming in contaminated water or from contact with animals.

DOH-Hillsborough officials say they continue to see the rise in ‘crypto’, particularly since school began. Since July 1, 201 cases, mostly children, have been reported to health officials. In 2013, 11 crypto cases were reported during the same period.

Crypto can cause a gastrointestinal disease with loose, watery stools, cramps, nausea, vomiting and slight fever. Symptoms typically appear one week (range 1-14 days) after ingesting the parasite.

Cryptosporidium life cycle/CDC
Cryptosporidium life cycle/CDC

Prevention of crypto includes the following, according to the CDC:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, rubbing hands together vigorously and scrubbing all surfaces (hand sanitizer is not effective):
    • Before preparing or eating food
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • Before and after tending to someone who is ill with diarrhea
    • After handling an animal or animal waste
At child care facilities
  • To reduce the risk of disease transmission, children with diarrhea should be excluded from child care settings until the diarrhea has stopped.
At recreational water venues (pools, interactive fountains, lakes, ocean)
  • Protect others by not swimming if you are experiencing diarrhea (this is essential for children in diapers). If diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, do not swim for at least 2 weeks after diarrhea stops.
  • Shower before entering the water.
  • Wash children thoroughly (especially their bottoms) with soap and water after they use the toilet or their diapers are changed and before they enter the water.
  • Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check their diapers often.
  • Change diapers in the bathroom, not at the poolside.
Around animals
  • Minimize contact with the feces of all animals, particularly young animals.
  • When cleaning up animal feces, wear disposable gloves, and always wash hands when finished.
  • Wash hands after any contact with animals or their living areas.
  • Wash hands after gardening, even if wearing gloves.
Immunocompromised persons
  • Avoid close contact with any person or animal that has cryptosporidiosis. Cryptosporidiosis can become a life threatening disease for immunocompromised persons.
  • Do not handle animal feces because infection can be life threatening for immunocompromised persons.

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