An outbreak of Cryptosporidium infection has been building for the past two weeks in central Ohio, with the number of cases hitting 209 as of Friday. The cases are scattered among Columbus, Franklin and Delaware counties. The current total exceeds the combined cases from the past four years, said Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for Columbus Public Health in Columbus, OH. He said that the outbreak is not tied to any one location since a large number of the cases include people with multiple exposures at various local recreational water facilities. “Crypto can be cyclical, and the last time we saw one was close to 500 cases in 2008, so it has happened before,” he said. “A lot of public pools closed today and are being hyper-chlorinated” in order to eliminate the microscopic parasite as much as possible.“The most important thing to do to be safe is to not go back in the water,” Rodriguez said. “Stay out of the pools until after you have recovered and are over the diarrhea.” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking water and recreational water are the most common ways to spread the parasite. Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. The illness caused by the parasite is known as cryptosporidiosis. It is spread by swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter containing the parasite, or from human-to-human contact. Cryptosporidium may be found in soil, food, water or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals. Symptoms usually begin two to 10 days (with an average of seven days) after being infected with the parasite and typically last for one to two weeks. Some people have symptoms for only a few days, but they can continue for up to four or more weeks. The most common symptoms are watery diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss, although some infected people have no symptoms. The infection is not usually serious, but it can be for those who have compromised immune systems. However, Rodriguez said that no one is known to have been hospitalized in connection with the current outbreak in Ohio.

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