June 28, 2019
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Number of Crypto outbreaks increases 13% every year

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Photo of Michele Hlavsa
Michele Hlavsa

The number of outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, increased approximately 13% each year between 2009 and 2017, researchers said.

In an MMWR, Radhika Gharpure, DVM, an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the CDC, and colleagues wrote that Crypto is the No. 1 cause of outbreaks of diarrhea linked to water and the third leading cause of diarrhea related to animal contact in the U.S.

In the report, Crypto outbreaks were defined as two or more cases epidemiologically linked to a common source. During the study period, public health officials from 40 states and Puerto Rico reported a total of 7,465 cases stemming from 444 Crypto outbreaks. Exposure to pools, water playgrounds and other recreational water sources caused 35.1% of all outbreaks and 56.7% of all cases. Other outbreaks resulted from cattle exposure (14.6%) and contact with infected children in child care settings (12.8%).

To stem the increasing rate of outbreaks in the U.S., the CDC recommends against swimming or attending child care while sick, and the agency encourages hand-washing after exposure to animals.

“Young children can get seriously sick and easily spread Crypto,” Michele Hlavsa, RN, MPH, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, said in a press release. “They do not know how to use the toilet and wash their hands or are just learning how. We as parents can take steps to help keep our kids healthy in the water, around animals and in child care.” – by Katherine Bortz

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.