COUNTY PREPARES: Cryptosporidium Cases Rise

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Many metro schools head back to class this week, which has Polk County Public Health officials worried about another spread of cryptosporidium.

Tom Stevens and his wife Judy sell stuffed pickles at farmer’s markets around the metro.

When it comes to keeping things sanitary, they don’t mess around.  They also make sure their kids and grandkids do the same.

“I think it`s repetition, you keep, every time they pick up something or every time they come into the house you tell them to wash their hands,” says Tom Stevens of Judy’s Husband’s Stuffed Pickles.

Public Health Officials also are not taking any chances.

“We know kids aren`t masters of hygiene so teaching them through or hand washing techniques using soap and warm water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds to slow down the spread of cryptosporidium when school does start,” says Sarah Boese with the Polk County Health Department.

Boese says as kids head back to class, officials are worried about a second outbreak in schools.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite that can be found in soil, food, water or surfaces that have been contaminated with feces from an infected animal or human.

It causes severe diarrhea for up to 30 days, so officials hope people take their advice and stay home if they have any symptoms.

“The best thing someone can do is if you have diarrhea stay home from school, stay home from work, stay home from daycare, until those symptoms are gone,” says Boese.

On top of a hand washing, experts say everyone should also wash their fruits and veggies to stop the parasite from spreading.

“If it`s bagged or not it goes home and gets washed, just practice good hygiene that`s what keeps us healthy,” says Stevens.

So far cryptosporidium has left 203 people sick in Polk County since early July.

The average for this time of year is less than 20.

Officials say although no one is immune to the parasite, it affects younger children, pregnant women and those with low immune systems the most.


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