The Kansas City and Platte County health departments issued notices last week, warning Northland residents about a recent bout of Cryptosporidiosis cases in the area. The Platte County Health Department said its working with operators to take cautionary measures for treatment of swimming pools known to have contact with infected individuals. That includes the Park Hill District Aquatic Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Park Hill and Park Hill South swim teams have experienced a rash of sick individuals, possibly related to the protozoan Cryptosporidium parvum. The protozoa leads to gastrointestinal sickness with symptoms that include severe, watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Individuals with symptoms are asked not swim in pools until two weeks after the symptoms subside. Symptoms take two to 10 days to show up, which means more cases could be reported in the coming weeks.
“At this time, we are tracking possible and confirmed cases in the community” said Dan Luebbert, operational assistant director at Platte County Health Department. “We encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently and stay out of the pool if you have recently had any diarrhea.”
Public health officials want swimmers to take proactive steps to protect themselves and other swimmers.
The most important prevention measure is careful hand washing with soap and warm running water. Alcohol-based hand gels and sanitizers do not kill Crypto so they do not help stop the spread.
Swimmers are also warned to avoid swallowing pool water, change diapers often and in a restroom at facilities and make time for frequent restroom breaks for children.
Crypto is chlorine-resistant and can live for days in chlorine treated water, although local affected pools are “shocking” the water in an attempt to help eliminate it.
Transmission of Crypto primarily occurs through contact with contaminated water. Occasionally food sources may serve as a vehicle for transmission.
Last week, the Park Hill School District closed the pool at its aquatic center — located on the campus of Park Hill High School — for three days. The Kansas City Health Department inspected the pool and declared it safe for swimming on Friday, Aug. 28.
The precautionary measures were taken after numerous swimmers became sick.
“We do not know if the students got ill from our pool, and we do not know what their illness is, but we took these steps to prevent spreading illnesses like cryptosporidium, which is common in swimming pools,” the district said in a release.
The aquatic center hosted the Northland Invitational, which featured swimmers from across the area, on Saturday, Aug. 22. Warning emails were sent to the schools which competed in that event to be on the lookout for symptoms, but it is not known if any other swimmers were affected.
Platte County High School’s team also competed in the event and is aware of and monitoring the situation. No known illnesses related to Crypto have been reporter, according to superintendent Dr. Mike Reik.