Outbreaks of disease caused by the Cryptosporidium parasite (a key symptom of which is diarrhea) shot up an average of 13% annually between 2009 and 2017, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s now the top cause of disease outbreaks via water in the U.S. There were 444 outbreaks over the study period, resulting in hundreds of hospitalizations and one fatality. Around 35% of the outbreaks were linked to treated swimming water (eg, pools and water playgrounds); 13% to contact with cattle; another 13% to contact with infected people in childcare settings; and 3% to drinking unpasteurized milk or apple cider. Urgent care providers are advised to ask if any of those factors are present in patients presenting with acute diarrhea, and to explore a surveillance system called CryptoNet, the country’s first national tracking system for the parasitic disease based on DNA fingerprinting. The technology is intended to determine how the parasite spreads and gain insight into outbreaks.
Summertime, and the Livin’ Is Easy—for Diarrhea-Causing Parasites