Archive for Wednesday, September 24, 2003

99 cases of parasite reported

Reports made in Leavenworth, Jefferson counties

September 24, 2003

An outbreak of the cryptosporidium parasite that broke out in Lawrence now has spread to nearby areas, including Leavenworth and Jefferson counties.

A total of 99 cases have been reported in northeast Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes diarrhea, loose or watery stool, stomach cramps, upset stomach and a slight fever. The parasite can be fatal to patients with weakened immune systems, such as the young, elderly or people with HIV. More than two-thirds of those who contract cryptosporidiosis are children.

There is no treatment for the disease in adults, but federal officials approved a drug for children last year. Those who contract the parasite but are otherwise healthy usually recover within two or three weeks.

The parasite is passed through oral ingestion of even microscopic amounts of tainted feces.

Last week, KDHE reported that in addition to the 82 cases reported in Douglas County, a total of 17 cases have been reported from:

  • Leavenworth County, two cases, one of which has been linked to Douglas County.
    ¢ Jefferson County, two cases, both linked to Douglas County.
    ¢ Shawnee County, four cases, two of which have been linked to Douglas County.
    ¢ Wyandotte County, one case, which has not been linked to Douglas County.
    ¢ Johnson County, eight cases, none linked to Douglas County.

It is possible, KDHE officials said, that those not linked could be related through as-yet unknown links.

KDHE has contacted the health departments in Leavenworth, Jefferson, Shawnee, Wyandotte and Johnson counties about the possibility of transmission of cryptosporidium, and is urging health departments to contact all physicians in these counties regarding this.

Once the parasite is established in a community, additional cases could occur through person-to-person contact, daycare facilities, swimming and wading pools or recreational waters.

There is no reason to believe public water supplies in any of these counties are impacted, KDHE said.

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