Dallas Residents Encouraged To Prevent Crypto Spread

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Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is calling on the public to take an active role in halting the spread of cryptosporidiosis (crypto). Crypto is a diarrheal illness caused by microscopic parasites called Cryptosporidium. Symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (which can last 1-2 weeks). Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention. An individual usually becomes infected with Crypto by ingesting contaminated food or water.

Since late June, DCHHS has received 378 reports of laboratory confirmed cases of crypto association with use of recreational water facilities. DCHHS has been working throughout the summer with municipalities and private water facility operators, hospitals, clinicians, school districts, and day care centers, to quickly confirm cases, and ensure that proper sanitation and educational measures have been implemented at the implicated facilities.

“We are asking the public to help DCHHS stop this outbreak,” said Dr. Wendy Chung, DCHHS Chief Epidemiologist. “The means keeping cryptosporidiosis out of our water parks, spray parks and pools and also preventing person-to-person spread. Also, DCHHS is recommending that persons at high risk of developing severe illness, such as those with compromised immune systems, avoid use of water parks or pools until further notice,” Chung continues.

DCHHS is asking the public to follow these important healthy swim behaviors:

• Do not swim if you currently have or have had diarrhea in the past two weeks.

• Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers.

• Avoid getting pool water in your mouth and never swallow water from pools or water spouts in interactive spray water parks.

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• Report any pool fecal accident to the pool operator or lifeguard immediately.

• Shower before and after using water parks and pools.

• Do not take pets into pools and spray parks.

• Persons at high risk of developing severe illness, such as those with compromised immune systems, should avoid use of water parks or pools until further notice.

”DCHHS is working with all the aquatic facilities linked to this outbreak to ensure that proper sanitation measures are being taken,” Zachary Thompson said. “A large number of cases of crypto in Dallas County have been associated with stand-alone spray parks and large water parks. We know that these types of aquatic facilities are very popular destinations during Labor Day weekend which is why DCHHS is calling on all pools and aquatic facilities to hyperchlorinate before Labor Day weekend. We must work together to halt the spread of crypto in our community,” Thompson continued. In addition to precautions issued to the general public, DCHHS is issuing the following recommendations to pool owners and operators:

• All water parks, spray parks and pools that anticipate having more than 50 persons per day using their facility should conduct hyperchlorination using the protocool established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before Labor Day. If the facility will continue to be open after Labor Day, the pools should hyperchlorinate using CDC standards on a weekly basis until October 1, 2008.

• If a fecal incident occurs, immediately close the pool or spray park, remove as much of the fecal material as possible, and repeat hyperchlorination protocols. Leave the net or bucket used to remove the fecal material in the water during hyperchlorination to disinfect the item prior to repeat use.

• Post signs regarding the above recommendations for the general public at your facility.

• Pool and spray park operators are asked to report cases of diarrheal illness possibly linked to use of their recreational water facility to DCHHS at (214) 819-2004.

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