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St. Francois County health officials confirm case of intestinal parasite

PARK HILLS – The St. Francois County Health Department confirmed this morning that a St. Francois County resident has tested positive for the parasite cryptosporidiousis. A second person from Scott County who has a connection with a St. Francois County pool has also tested positive for cryptosporidiousis.

“We received confirmation of the cases on Wednesday,” said St. Francois County Health Director Diane Williams. “Both cases are in children. We know that one for sure and possible the second one as well, has connections to area pools. There are possible additional cases in our county that have connections with the local pools.”

“Due to children having fecal accidents in pools, the pools can be a sources of infection,” Williams said. “The most common symptoms are diarrhea and stomach illness.”

According to the health department, people can contract the parasites by swallowing contaminated water. Children and adults who do not wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing diapers are also at risk of contamination.

“We are asking that anyone who has visited any of our St. Francois County pools from Aug. 1 to the present who have had persistent diarrhea to contact Liz Maserang at the county health department at (573) 431-1947,” Williams said. “We are working with local pools and Bonne Terre has already volunteered to close its municipal pool for the remainder of the season. It is very important that anyone who has had diarrhea to not go into any kind of pool”

Bonne Terre Mayor Sue Wilke said the city will close the city pool to the general public today. However, previously scheduled pool parties will still be held.

“The health department recommended we do that so we are going to,” she said. “It’s absolutely better not to take any chances with that.”

Park Hills city leaders have not yet made the decision to close down the pool for the season.

As of press time, it was not known if city officials were going to keep the Farmington Water Park open.

Williams said normal levels of chlorine will not kill the parasite.

“It takes a high level of chlorine to kill parasite,” Williams said. “The level of chlorine that it takes to kill the parasite is not safe to swim in.”

Williams said the parasite is not deadly, but can be very serious for older people and for people with low immune systems.

“It is very contagious,” Williams said.

Testing of the parasite is done through stool cultures. Williams said letters went out to local daycares last week as to what to look for.

At home Williams said using bleach is a good method of killing the parasite. Wash hands for 30 seconds with antibacterial soap and warm water. 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. When washing linens, towels and clothes of those who are ill, use normal procedures for washing. Dry all items in the dryer.

Forty-one cases of intestinal parasites have been reported in Madison County in the past week. Fredericktown closed its pool the evening of Aug. 8 after learning that two people had who had been swimming in the pool had tested positive for Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

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