Bulletin #48 - 201 people sick, linked to swimming pools     

Up to 19 swimming pools have been investigated after 200 people half of them children under five contracted a parasitic infection, New South Wales Health says.

Since the beginning of February, 201 people in NSW have been struck down by cryptosporidiosis, a diarrhoeal disease caused by a parasitic infection of the intestine.

NSW Health communicable diseases director Jeremy McAnulty said 44 of those cases were reported to NSW Health in the past 24 hours.

Dr McAnulty said there were no common links in most cases but some had reported swimming in common pools, which could be easily contaminated by infectious swimmers. In response to the outbreak, he said 19 pools had been investigated, most in Sydney's west, but some outside the city also. None had tested positive for cryptosporidium.

Pools could be super-chlorinated to stop the infection, but the parasite is very hardy and can infect pools up to two weeks after faeces is found.

Dr McAnulty urged anyone with diarrhoea to wait for at least two weeks after their symptoms disappeared before going swimming.

There is no treatment for the infection which can cause diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting for weeks and sometimes even months. Cryptosporidiosis can be passed on through contact with infected people farm animals or drinking untreated water.

The biggest outbreak of the disease, which usually occurs in summer or autumn, was in NSW in 1998 when more than 1000 cases were confirmed. 

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