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Look Out for 'Crypto' Parasite During Summer Fun

A parasite known as cryptosporidium, or "crypto," can cause diarrhea and is often spread by cattle in South Dakota. (
A parasite known as cryptosporidium, or "crypto," can cause diarrhea and is often spread by cattle in South Dakota. (
May 30, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – A parasite that causes an uncomfortable illness is on the rise as summer unofficially begins.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning about crypto – short for cryptosporidiosis.

It infects the intestines and stomach, causing cramps, diarrhea and dehydration.

Cases of crypto generally go up during the summer because it is often spread in pools.

State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger of the South Dakota Department of Health says in the Mount Rushmore State, cattle are the most likely source.

He says people should thoroughly wash their hands after working with cattle.

"Hand gel is pretty good for viruses and a lot of bacteria, but this is a parasite,” he points out. “It has a tough outer coat.

“So cryptosporidiosis can withstand hand gel, it can withstand normal chlorination of drinking water, and even normal chlorination of normal swimming pools, so it's a hard little bugger to kill."

Kightlinger also stresses that people should enjoy the summer fun too.

To prevent the spread of cryptosporidiosis in pools, the CDC recommends South Dakotans stay away from the pool for two weeks if they've had diarrhea and avoid swallowing pool water.

Kightlinger says the vast majority of healthy adults will get better without any treatment at all, although they may head to the doctor because of the uncomfortable illness.

However, he says the disease can be more dangerous for some.

"If you're a person who has some risk factors, like if you're immuno-compromised or the very, very young or somebody who's very, very old or people who have other issues, they may need to be put on anti-parasitic medicine," he states.

Kightlinger says if you do become ill, make sure to stay hydrated.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - SD