GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Reported illnesses involving the same parasite that sidelined Rockford’s high school football team three years ago are on the rise.
In August 2016, 30 Rockford High School football players were too sick to play. An investigation by the Kent County Health Department determined Cryptosporidiosis, which is usually found in water, was the culprit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting the number of Crypto cases rose about 13% each year between 2009 and 2017.
According to the CDC, Cryptosporidium — the parasite behind the illness — is the leading cause of diarrhea outbreaks linked to water and the third leading cause of diarrhea associated with animal contact in the U.S.
Just as the number of national cases has risen in recent years, so has the Kent County Health Department’s case count:
- 2014: 17 cases
- 2015: 14 cases
- 2016: 33 cases
- 2017: 24 cases
- 2018: 31 cases
The number of confirmed cases spiked the same year the Rockford football team was sickened.
So far this year, five cases have been reported in Kent County.
Crypto causes watery diarrhea that can last up to three weeks. It’s spread by not washing your hands after touching cattle and in child care facilities —but the top hot spot is swimming pools.
“The Crytosporidium parasite actually lives— it’s called a cyst while it’s in the environment. And that cyst is very resistant to chlorine, so it just kind of floats there in its little shell until it’s consumed by something, like an unknowing swimmer. And that’s where it sets up camp in their intestines and creates illness,” explained Adam London from the Kent County Health Department.
London says we should teach our kids to not ingest the water they swim in and always wash their hands after visiting a petting farm and before eating a picnic lunch.
***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Cryptosporidium as a bacteria. We regret this error, which has since been corrected****