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 and laboratories 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 34 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 12 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

Hand washing

Wash your hands thoroughly:

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

General Cleaning

Clean surfaces that may have become contaminated, especially bathrooms and toys that unwell children may have handled.

Safe Drinking Water

Avoid drinking untreated water. Untreated water 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.

Swimming

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

Bathing

Unwell children should not share bathwater with well children.

Attendance at work, school or preschool

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