Dept. of Public Health Issues Warning of Second Diarrhea-causing Parasite

By Hayley Bruce, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Public Health is warning Iowans to wash their hands and keep their sick children at home and out of the pool in light of a second diarrhea-causing illness that has sicked more than 200 people since June 1.

A Thursday release said the department has received an increasing number of reports of Cryptosporidiosis, also known as "Crypto," which causes watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and a low grade fever. The release said 358 cases have been reported to the department this year, and 272 of them have occurred since June 1.

The cases have been reported in about half of Iowa's 99 counties, an an additional 138 remain under investigation. In 2012, a total of 328 cases of Crypto were reported total.

As of Aug. 7, 16 cases of Crypto were reported in Linn County and 3 cases were reported in Johnson County.

The parasite can infect both humans and animals, and the release said it is often transmitted by coming in contact with people or animals who have had the parasite, or drinking water contaminated with it. Many of the people who contracted Crypto reported swimming in pools, lakes and rivers or around animals.

The department is advising people not to swim if they are experiencing diarrhea, and not to allow children wearing diapers with diarrhea to swim, not swallowing water in your mouth while swimming, washing hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, showering before swimming, changing diapers in a bathroom rather than poolside, and taking children on bathroom breaks often. People with diarrhea should wait until two weeks after it has stopped before swimming.

The release also says people should wash hands frequently -- particularly when preparing food, after using the bathroom, after changing diapers and before and after taking care of someone sick with diarrhea. Children with diarrhea should also not go to childcare settings until it has stopped, according to the release.
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