4 swimmers test positive for deadly waterborne disease - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

4 swimmers test positive for deadly waterborne disease

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Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by a parasite that can be transmitted from one swimmer to another in pools. Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by a parasite that can be transmitted from one swimmer to another in pools.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Orange County Health Department says there have been four confirmed cases of a potentially life-threatening disease.

Stacy Shelp, with Orange County Health Department, said four people have tested positive for cryptosporidiosis, a disease caused by a parasite that can be transmitted from one swimmer to another in pools.

Three people are members of area swim teams.

She said three other swim team members have shown symptoms of crypto and are awaiting test results.

As a precaution, pool operators in Orange, Durham and Wake counties are taking preventative measures and performing hyperchlorination help kill the parasite.

"We've got other people who swim in those pools who are not swim team members who could be immune-compromised," said Orange County Health Director Colleen Bridger. "That's what you worry about with crypto is if somebody who has a weakened immune system gets infected with the parasite, it can be really life-threatening for them."

no specific pool has been linked to the disease and no pools are closed at this time.

"we don't want to close a pool or cancel a meet if that's going to adversely affect them," Bridger said. "At the same time, we're trying to be very sensitive to the fact that we have very old and very young swimmers who use those same pools and who could be very adversely effected if they become infected with crypto."

Symptoms of crypto generally begin two to 10 days after becoming infected with the parasite. The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea.

Other symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Some people with crypto will have no symptoms at all.

Shelp said anyone who may exhibit symptoms of crypto must take an antibiotic and cannot enter a pool for two weeks once the symptoms are gone.

Crypto can be life threatening to people with weakened immune systems. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include:

  • people with AIDS;
  • those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system; and
  • cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.
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