A cryptosporidium outbreak in Pike County, Illinois has sickened at least 30 people, according to the Pike County Health Department. The initial announcement stated that the outbreak pathogen had not yet been identified, and directed health care providers to test patients for both E. coli and Cryptosporidium.
Those sickened attended the Pike County Fall Color Drive on October 17 and 18, 2015 in Barry, Illinois. This event is a large fall festival that spans several communities in the county. Patients who have been sick consumed apple cider from vendors at two locations. News reports have identified the outbreak as cryptosporidiosis, and the symptoms mentioned in the press release from Pike County are those of cryptosporidiosis.
Symptoms of those sickened include profuse and explosive diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and vomiting. People began getting sick from October 20 through October 28, 2015. Some patients have been hospitalized, and more illnesses are being reported.
The patients are experiencing symptoms that last about 1 to 2 weeks. Some may experience a recurrence of symptoms after a brief period of recovery. Symptoms can come and go for up to 30 days. These are the symptoms of cryptosporidiosis, not E. coli.
Those who are most vulnerable to this illness include children under the age of 2, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with a chronic illness or compromised immune system. If you attended the festival or drank apple cider purchased from vendors at that festival and have these symptoms, see your doctor and mention this outbreak. Public health officials are seeking more cases of GI illnesses who attended the event and consumed apple cider either while there or purchased at the event and consumed at home later.
If you have apple cider purchased during the Pike County Color Drive October 17 and 18, 2015, do not drink it. Contact your local health department so the cider can be tested. The number for the Pike County Health Department is 217-285-4407. The number for the Adams County Health Department is 217-222-8440.
Cryptosporidiosis is a reportable illness. The doctor of anyone diagnosed with this disease is required to contact the Illinois Department of Public Health Communicable Disease Control Section at 217-782-2016. There is no known effective treatment for this illness, so palliative care is necessary. Dehydration is the most significant complication.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that is spread through eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated beverages, and by swallowing contaminated water in swimming pools or lakes. It can be spread person-to-person. The oocyst has a hard outer shell that lets it survive outside the body for a long time and makes it resistant to chlorine disinfectants.
Fertilizing vegetables or fruits with manure-tainted water can cause contamination, as can the presence of animals in the farm field. It can also be spread by someone who has this illness. It only takes a few of the organisms to make someone sick. The fecal-oral route is the most common transmission form.
To prevent the spread of this illness, anyone who is sick with diarrhea should not prepare or serve food to others. Always wash your hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, or caring for someone who has a diarrheal illness.