The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting an increase in cryptosporidiosis, commonly known as “Crypto,” a disease caused by microscopic parasites.
Health officials said the parasite can be found on surfaces, including hands, or in food and water that have been contaminated with human or animal feces infected with the it.
Symptoms generally begin two to 10 days after being infected with the parasite, health officials explained. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea, which typically lasts one to two weeks, said the CDC which, along with state and federal health and regulatory officials, is monitoring cases of cyclosporiasis in the United States to detect outbreaks linked to a common food source.
Cyclosporiasis, caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, causes diarrhea, loss of appetite, and cramping. Parasites are organisms that live on or in a host and get their food from or at the expense of their host.
The Caldwell County Health Department in North Carolina alerted residents to an increase in the disease on October 18.
“Cyclosporiasis cases have been reported year-round in the United States, with increases in case counts seen during the spring and summer months, but due to global warming the active period for this disease is expanding,” said Lisa McCormick, a health advocate who has warned that Americans need to prepare for unusual risks. “Political corruption and incompetence has largely crippled our ability to address climate change, social justice, war and peace, deadly viral outbreaks, nuclear instability, and income inequality. Americans need to wake up to this.”
This year, CDC began to receive reports of cases in April.
As of August 29, 2023, 40 jurisdictions, including 39 states and New York City, have reported a total of 1,957 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis. The agency said that between ten and 30 cases have been reported in New Jersey.
These individuals had not traveled outside of the United States during the 14 days before they got sick. This is an increase of 894 cases since the last update on July 27, 2023.
In 2022, only 1,129 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis were detected in Americans who had no history of international travel.
Sick people range in age from 2 to 96 years, with a median age of 50, and 58% are female.
Of 1,932 people with information available, 153 have been hospitalized. Zero deaths have been reported.
Local, state, and federal (CDC, FDA) public health authorities are investigating multiple potential clusters of cases.
The total case count (1,957) includes the clusters under investigation by the FDA. Investigations to identify potential sources are ongoing.
You can get this infection after eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with stool. This includes swallowing water while swimming. You can also get infected if you touch things or surfaces contaminated with stool. You can also get the infection from another person.
Thorough handwashing is the best prevention for crypto, health officials said.
The parasite has an outer shell. Because of this, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not effective and even using chlorine to clean water may not kill the parasite. Crypto is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in the U.S.