Published On: Sun, Sep 29th, 2013

Milwaukee area cryptosporidium outbreak: parasite ‘not in the drinking water’ according to health officials

An outbreak of the parasitic infection, cryptosporidiosis, has been reported from some northern Milwaukee suburban areas, according to officials at the North Shore Health Department.


Cryptosporidium oocysts Photo/CDC

Eight Cryptosporidiosis cases have been confirmed and 12 are suspected in Bayside, Fox Point and Whitefish Bay, Jamie Berg of the North Shore Health Department told the Milwaukee Journal Friday. None of the illnesses has been serious enough to require hospitalization, she said.

While the source of the outbreak has yet to be identified, drinking water has been ruled out. The health department posted the following on their website:

Several cases of cryptosporidium are being investigated.  It is NOT in the drinking water.  We are looking at recreational water exposures (lakes, ponds, swimming pools) in the cases that are being investigated. 

Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite (a tiny organism) that causes an infection called cryptosporidiosis affecting people and cattle.

The most common symptom is watery diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe.

Although it’s most frequently seen in young children, cryptosporidium can affect anyone. People with weak immune systems are likely to be most seriously affected.

Cryptosporidium is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infectedhuman or animal feces. Transmission occurs through animal-to-human or human-to-human contact. Consuming contaminated water or food, swimming in contaminated water and children visiting petting zoos are common ways people contract the parasite.

It is typically a self-limiting illness in otherwise healthy individuals.

20 years ago, Milwaukee experienced a crytosporidium outbreak so large it is touted the largest waterborne disease outbreak in documented United States history.

More than 400,000 people were sickened by the parasite over a two week period in the spring of 1993. The source of the outbreak was contaminated water from a water treatment plant.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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