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19 Maricopa County Residents Diagnosed With Water-Borne Diarrheal Illness

Maricopa County seal
(Photo by Alexandra Olgin - KJZZ)
Maricopa County seal.

Health officials confirmed 19 cases of a water-borne diarrheal illness in Maricopa County last month. The illness is caused by a parasite known as Cryptosporidium parvum, which is typically found in swimming pools or other recreational water.

Medical director for disease control at Maricopa County Public Health Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine said this is just the beginning of the outbreak.

“We’ve identified 19 cases in the month of July and we had 35 cases in all of last year, so this is a significant increase in the number of diseased,” Dr. Sunenshine said.

She said they have interviewed people in six of the 19 cases so far.

“The vast majority had named multiple sources of recreational water throughout the Valley,” Dr. Sunenshine said.

Crypto causes watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting. Healthy people recover without treatment, but those with weakened immune systems can have more prolonged or severe symptoms.

“The most important thing people can do to prevent it from spreading is not swimming with diarrhea and making sure to wait at least two weeks after diarrhea symptoms resolve before they go in the water,” Dr. Sunenshine said.

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Katy Burge was an intern at KJZZ in 2016.