Oct 16, 2007

Cyptosporidium Outbreak Worsens

Health officials say an outbreak of cryptosporidium, a dangerous stomach illness, is getting worse.

Now they're widening their recommendations to day care centers and the food service industry.

The main symptom you need to watch out for is diarrhea that can cause dehydration. In extreme cases, dehydration can quickly escalate into death.
It was a hot August day when Sally Rogers took her daughter to the Riverside Park fountain to cool off.

It's here that she believes her daughter caught cryptosporidium. And then Sally caught it from her.

“I was sick for 3 weeks,” Rogers said. “And it took forever for it to go away. I lost 12 pounds, threw up all the time and had diarrhea all the time."

In late August when the outbreak was first identified the Wichita health department closed down and treated all city fountains and pools and warned private pools to do the same.

But unfortunately the outbreak continued to get worse.

"It's a very big concern for us, it went from seven in the end of August to 70 cases right now,” Kay Johnson, Director of Environmental Services for the city of Wichita said. “So we want people to know it's real important for people to wash their hands and make sure that they're practicing good hygiene," Kay Johnson, Director of Environmental Services for the city of Wichita said.

Johnson says a number of cases have involved children in daycare facilities. The health department is warning parents not send children with diarrhea to day care until they are seen by a doctor and tested for cryptosporidium.

Restaurant managers are also being told to restrict employees who show symptoms.

"They need to be tested and they need to be eliminated from that work environment until they're free from the symptoms," said Johnson.

The most common symptom is watery diarrhea. Others include dehydration, weight loss, stomach cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting.

Rogers says she and her daughter experienced them all. She’s hoping this warning will mean nobody else will have to.

Health officials recommend anyone with symptoms see their doctor.