The number of summertime parasitic outbreaks has been increasing steadily every year since 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis rose an average of 13% every year from 2009 to 2017, according to a report published by the CDC last week.
Cryptosporidiosis -- or crypto for short -- is the leading cause of disease outbreaks in the U.S. linked to water, specifically in swimming pools or water playgrounds.
Between 2009 and 2017 there were 444 outbreaks reported, resulting in 7,465 people getting sick, 287 hospitalizations and one death, the report says.
Of those outbreaks, 35% were linked to treated swimming water, and 15% were linked to contact with cattle, particularly calves that were still nursing.
Another 13% of the outbreaks were linked to contact with infected people in childcare settings, and 3% were linked to drinking raw, unpasteurized milk or apple cider.
The outbreaks are most common in the summer. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, dehydration, lack of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps or pain, fever, nausea and vomiting, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Young children who are just learning how to use the toilet and wash their hands are especially susceptible to getting ill from crypto, Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, said in a statement.
Tips to prevent becoming sick from and spreading crypto:
- Do not swim or let kids swim if they have diarrhea. If diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, do not swim until two weeks after diarrhea completely stops.
- Do not swallow the water when you swim.
- Keep kids sick with diarrhea at home and away from childcare.
- Wash hands with soap and water after coming in contact with animals or anything in animals' environment, especially animal feces. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not work effectively on crypto.
- If you drink milk or apple cider, only buy if it has been pasteurized.