THUNDER BAY, ON ---- March 31, 2012 ---- Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health specializing in waterborne diseases, said Tuesday three cases of cryptosporidiosis had been confirmed and six more were suspected in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The cases involve children and adults who visited the water park in March but there may be many more cases going unreported, Robinson said.
"For every confirmed case, there's usually 98.6 additional cases. It is certainly possible and very probable that there are additional people who are ill out there," Robinson said. "There could be people who may have not shown symptoms yet."
Robinson pressed the point that a person stays infectious for two weeks after symptoms disappear.
"If you currently have diarrhea or have had diarrhea within the past two weeks, we do not want you going into any type of recreational water facility," she said.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is advising residents that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has recently identified two outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis associated with waterparks; there is no indication at this time that the outbreaks are related.
The Minnesota water parks involved are the Edgewater Water Park in Duluth and the Paul Bunyan Water Park at the Lodge in Brainerd. Thirteen ill individuals have been identified, so far, and one has required hospitalization. All of these cases have occurred in residents of multiple areas of Minnesota. Although many Thunder Bay residents vacation at these resorts, the TBDHU has not identified any cases associated with the Minnesota outbreaks.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that can be found in soil, food, water or surfaces that have been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals. One can become infected after swallowing recreational water contaminated with the parasite. Recreational water in swimming pools, hot tubs and jacuzzis have been linked to several outbreaks as Cryptosporidium is chlorine resistant and can live for days in pools and other recreational water sources.
Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis can include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss and fever (low grade). People typically become ill 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the parasite. Most people recover in approximately 1 to 2 weeks; however, they will continue to shed the parasite in their stools for at least 2 weeks following the resolution of symptoms. Approximately 20% of individuals infected with Cryptosporidium require hospitalization for their illness. Illness can be especially severe or prolonged in immunocompromised individuals. Immunocompromised includes the very young, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.
The TBDHU is asking anyone who has experienced unresolved illness after swimming at one of the above water parks to consult their health care provider. If you have any questions, contact a public health inspector in the Infectious Diseases Program at (807) 625-8318 or 1-888-294-6630, ext. 8318.
Thorough hand washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds is the best way to prevent spread. Wash hands after using the toilet, changing a diaper and before handling or eating food. Because Cryptosporidium can be spread so easily through water, people who have symptoms of cryptosporidiosis should not swim in any pool while they have diarrhea and for 2 weeks following the resolution of their symptoms.
For more information:
Health Unit Media Line
625-8800 or 1-888-294-6630,