Parasite making more and more Iowans sick; most contract it from - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Parasite making more and more Iowans sick; most contract it from swimming

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The Schneider family likes to find ways to cool off in the summer. Monday, it was at one of the Cedar Rapids splash pads but typically it's a trip to one of the city's pools.

Tammie Schneider makes sure her kids are clean before they get in the water.

"We take showers before we get in and out," said Schneider, who lives in Cedar Rapids.

Public health officials say showering before and after swimming is one step towards helping prevent the spread of Cryptosporidiosis, or Crypto, which has made more than 400 Iowans sick with diarrhea this summer.

"It's spread through the fecal oral route," said Heather Meador, Linn County Public Health Nurse. "So a lot of times we'll see this when someone has been around farm animals. Cattle, goats, sheep, those animals will a lot of times pass the Crypto parasite through their fecal material."

So if someone gets into close contact with an animal, and doesn't wash his or her hands properly they can get sick.

If they go swimming, everyone else at the pool is at risk.

"If someone contracts Crypto and they've been in a pool, when they're swimming in there the normal chlorine in the pool will not be enough to kill that parasite," said Meador.

Around half of the reported cases this summer were in Polk County, followed by Webster, Warren, and Linn. Humboldt, Delaware, Dubuque, Johnson, and Madison counties have all seen more than 10 cases.

If someone gets sick with Crypto, they're supposed to stay out of pools for two weeks after their symptoms stop to help keep the water safe for families like the Schneiders.

Public health officials say to prevent the spread, make sure you don't swallow water in public pools, or in any other body of water. Thoroughly wash your hands before eating, after being in contact with animals, and after going to the restroom.

Crypto is also easily spread in day care centers. Washing hands after changing diapers, and disposing of diapers properly, helps prevent that.

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