NSW Health is urging people who have had diarrhoea not to swim in pools until at least two weeks after they have fully recovered following an increase in cryptosporidiosis in NSW.
There have been 484 cases of cryptosporidiosis reported to NSW Health to date this year. The highest rates of infections are in children under five,” Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director, Health Protection, said.
This is the highest year to date figure since 2009 when there was a large outbreak with more than 1000 notified cases.
226 cases were reported in February which is a significant increase on the 5 year average of 121 cases. So far, 126 cases have been reported in March.
“Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrhoeal disease caused by a parasitic infection of the intestine. The most common symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes fever, nausea and vomiting. There is no specific treatment for the condition and symptoms may last a few weeks in some people,” Dr McAnulty said.
Among the cases, a range of possible risk factors have been reported including swimming in pools. However the outbreak has not been linked to a specific pool. In previous studies other risk factors have included contact with farm animals and drinking untreated water.
To avoid getting infected with the parasite, NSW Health advises people to:
- Always wash their hands thoroughly for 10 seconds with soap and running water after using the toilet, changing nappies, or handling animals;
- Avoid swallowing or putting pool or spa water in your mouth; and
- Not drink untreated water such as when camping or bush walking. Bringing water to a rolling boil will kill these parasites.
To keep swimming pools free from contamination, it is vital that people do not swim in a pool or enter a spa until at least two weeks after they have completely recovered from a diarrhoeal illness.
NSW Health recommends parents do the following things to avoid pool contamination:
- Take their child on bathroom breaks often rather than waiting to hear they ‘have to go’ as it may be too late;
- Children who are not toilet-trained should wear swimming nappies or waterproof tight-fitting pants over swimmers;
- Change nappies in a bathroom and not at the poolside as germs can spread to surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness;
- Wash their child thoroughly (especially on the bottom) with soap and water before going swimming; and
- Wash their hands with soap and water after changing a child’s nappy.
Anyone concerned about their symptoms should contact their GP.
Cryptosporidiosis is a notifiable disease in NSW. The latest statistics are available at:
The NSW Health Fact Sheet on Cryptosporidiosis can be found at: