Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is reminding the public to avoid swimming if they have experienced diarrhoea in the last two weeks, to avoid contaminating pools with cryptosporidiosis.
Since 1 December 2017, there have been nine cases of the infection recorded in western Sydney, and many have been linked to swimming pools.
Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a parasitic infection of the intestine and is easily spread from person to person in swimming pools, splash parks, interactive fountains, spas or jacuzzis.
It can also be spread via drinking contaminated water or handling infected animals, but this is less common.
The most common symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes fever, nausea and vomiting.
WSLHD Public Health Unit director Dr Shopna Bag said people need to be vigilant.
“The infection can be spread for several weeks after diarrhoea stops,” said Dr Bag.
“If a swimmer swallows even a small amount of pool water after a contaminated person has been in the water, they can get infected.
“They will start experiencing diarrhoea a few days later. There is no specific treatment for the condition and symptoms may last a few weeks in some people.”
Only a very small proportion of people are ever diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, as diagnosis requires a stool test through a doctor.
NSW Health recommends everyone, including parents of young children, do the following to avoid contamination of pools and splash parks:
- Do not swim, or allow children with diarrhoea to swim, in a pool for at least two weeks after diarrhoea resolves
- Take children on bathroom breaks often
- Ensure children who are not toilet-trained wear waterproof tight-fitting pants
- Change nappies in a bathroom and not at the poolside as germs can spread to surfaces
- Wash children (especially on the bottom) with soap and water before swimming
- Wash hands with soap and water after changing a child’s nappy.
Swimming pools and splash parks are maintained under the Public Health Act and NSW Health works with operators to ensure best practice standards to prevent outbreaks of disease.
For resources and further information, pool operators should go to: