As the weather warms up, more people will be visiting pools, recreational water parks and lakes, potentially increasing their exposure to water-borne diseases.
According to the Center for Disease Control, cryptosporidium is one of the leading causes of waterborne disease. Cryptosporidiosis is an illness caused by parasites which live in soil, food and water; the most common mode of transmission for cryptosporidiosis is drinking contaminated water.
Symptoms include watery diarrhea, malaise, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss, similar to giardia. Symptoms appear from one day up to two weeks after exposure with an average of seven days and remain on average one to two weeks in persons with healthy immune systems. It can become life-threatening to immunocompromised persons, children and pregnant women who do not receive proper treatment.
According to the Utah State Health Department, Utah has averaged 94 cases of cryptosporidiosis per year since 2009. In the United States, an estimated 748,000 cases of cryptosporidium occur each year.
The best method of prevention is good personal hygiene and avoiding drinking or swallowing water from public pools, recreational water parks, lakes or streams. Preventive measures for you and your family are to ensure urine, feces and dirt are not present in drinking water. Shower before you swim and stay out of the water if you or your family members have diarrhea.
Many households in Northern Utah also use secondary water, which is carried through canals from the Weber River, East Canyon Reservoir and Echo Reservoir. This water is untreated and meant for watering lawns and gardens only. Secondary water is not safe for drinking, and parents should discourage children from playing in secondary water to prevent exposure to waterborne parasites.
If you think you might have been exposed to cryptosporidiosis or are experiencing other signs and symptoms of other waterborne diseases, please see your health-care provider immediately. For more information please visit the CDC.gov or contact 75th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health at 801-586-9546.