NSW health warns of cryptosporidiosis risk

With cases expected to rise over summer, NSW Health is warning people to be vigilant about the spread of cryptosporidiosis in swimming pools.

It is important that people affected by diarrhoea avoid swimming for two weeks after their symptoms are resolved to avoid contaminating pools and spreading the infection.     

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director of Health Protection at NSW Health, said people of all ages, particularly parents and carers of young children, should take steps to prevent the spread of the parasitic intestinal infection. 

“Cryptosporidiosis is easily spread from person to person in swimming pools, splash parks, interactive fountains, spas or jacuzzis,” Dr McAnulty said.

“We usually see cases increase over summer and there have been plenty of outbreaks caused by contaminated swimming pools.

“If an infected person gets into a pool and another swimmer swallows even a small amount of pool water, they can get infected and will start experiencing diarrhoea a few days later.

With the weather heating up, notifications of cryptosporidiosis remain low, with 38 cases reported in October and 41 cases so far this month. 

Case reports tend to peak between November and March, with the highest monthly notifications in the past five years in March 2017 with 325 cases.

Dr McAnulty explained that this is an underestimation of case numbers as many people with diarrhoea aren’t tested for cryptosporidiosis, which requires a stool test at the doctor.

Symptoms include lots of diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and sometimes vomiting or fever. There is no specific treatment for the condition and symptoms may last a few weeks.

The Public Health Act was recently amended to expand the maintenance requirements for swimming pools to include splash parks and interactive fountains to help reduce the risk of cryptosporidiosis outbreaks.

For further information, see the NSW Health cryptosporidiosis factsheet.

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