Cryptosporidiosis cases in Taranaki

16 July 2013

There have been 24 cases of cryptosporidiosis notified since the start of year compared with no cases for the same time period last year, said Medical Officer of Health, Dr Jonathan Jarman.

“Some of the cases were children but half were adults, and there have been similar outbreaks have also been seen in other parts of New Zealand.”

The illness is caused by a tiny parasite found in the gut of birds, fish, reptiles (eg, geckos and turtles), humans and animals such as cattle, sheep, cats and dogs. It is passed on in the faeces (poo, tutae) of infected animals and humans. 

“The main symptoms are diarrhoea (often watery), stomach cramps, lack of appetite and weight loss,” said Dr Jarman

The illness may last two weeks or more. There is no treatment except for making sure that the patient does not become dehydrated.

“Cryptosporidium is not normally a serious disease but it can be dangerous for people with lowered immunity,” he said. “Diarrhoea and tummy cramps for two weeks aren't much fun.”

The usual risk factors for cryptosporidiosis are living on a farm and having contact with farm animals.

“However some cases in Taranaki became unwell after recently swimming in pool. It is important that people with recent tummy bug symptoms stay away from swimming pools otherwise they may spread the illness to others,” he said.

The bugs are excreted by sick people for several weeks once they are recovered from the illness.

Key points about cryptosporidiosis:

  • No one should go swimming in a pool if they have diarrhoea.  Wait until at least two weeks after the symptoms have gone.
  • See a doctor if the symptoms are severe, if worried or if the illness does not get better after 2-3 days.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly by using plenty of soap, cleaning under fingernails, rinsing hands well and drying on a clean towel:
    • After contact with animals or animal faeces
    • After caring for people with diarrhoea
    • After going to the toilet
    • Before and during food preparation

For more information please call
Sue Carrington
Media Adviser
Ph 021 367 789


Last updated: Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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