Cryptosporidium is a parasite found in the gut of humans and animals. The parasites can live in the environment for long periods, especially in lakes, rivers, streams and roof water. It is widespread in New Zealand.  Doctors are legally required to notify the Public Health Service of cases of cryptosporidium disease under the Health Act 1956.

In the Nelson Marlborough district around 16 cases of cryptosporidium disease are notified to the Public Health Service each year.

Symptoms

The disease may cause an acute illness that includes symptoms of diarrhoea (profuse and watery) and abdominal pain. People usually get sick between two and 14 days (usually seven) after they are infected. Some people may display no symptoms.

Contact your GP or Healthline (0800 611 116) for further advice.

How is it spread?

Cryptosporidium disease is spread from ingestion of faecally contaminated water or food,  swallowing recreational water, contact with infected animals and person to person spread.

Prevention

Drinking water taken from the roof, rivers, lakes etc, should be boiled for one minute or an approved filter (Standard AS/NZS4348: 1995) should be used. Check with your local council to ensure your water supply is of good quality.

Wash your hands:

  • after going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • before preparing or handling food
  • after caring with people with cryptosporidium disease
  • after touching animals especially dairy cattle or calves
  • after gardening

People should remain away from work, school, preschool/childcare for 48 hours after symptoms have gone.

You should not swim in a public swimming pool for two weeks after symptoms clear.