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Cases of intestinal parasites continue to rise

The number of cases of residents with intestinal parasites continues to rise in Madison County, where seven more people have tested positive for cryptosporidiosis.

The Madison County Health Department announced today that lab tests had confirmed the additional cases, bringing the current total to 37. Some of the cases involved more than one type of parasite, including Entamoeba-coli, Giardia and Dientamoebas fragilis.

The search for the source of the outbreak continues, but health officials said they still have not found a common factor in the cases. Several people had been swimming in the Fredericktown pool before testing positive for parasites, while others had not been in or near the pool, said Becky Hunt, Madison County Health Department administrator.

The city closed its pool voluntarily after the first two cases were reported, Hunt said.

“These parasites naturally occur in rivers and streams,” Hunt explained. “We are trying to identify the original case to find out how it got into the pool. If we can discover where the source is, our goal is to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The parasites typically are spread through contact with feces or by drinking contaminated water. Health officials remind citizens that anyone who is exhibiting symptoms or has recently been ill should not swim or go to water parks because diarrhea raises the risk of contaminating the water.

The most important preventative is washing one’s hands thoroughly.

“Washing your hands doesn’t kill the parasites, but it will wash them down the drain,” Hunt said.

Disinfecting surfaces is another extremely important measure to take in order to prevent spread of the disease, and is one way to kill the parasites, Hunt said.

Disinfect bathrooms, sinks, tub/shower areas with a solution of one-quarter cup of bleach to one gallon of water and use disposable towels to wipe up areas. Use disposable gloves when changing diapers or disinfecting bathrooms.

To clean countertops, tables and other surface areas, use a solution of one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water, using disposable towels to wipe the surfaces.

For more information contact the Madison County Health Department at the above number or at (573) 783-2747.

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