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- What is cryptosporidia and where does it come from?
- Cryptosporidia is a microscopic organism that is found in the faeces of animals and also humans. They are also commonly found in rivers and lakes especially after heavy rainfall when animal waste can wash from the land. Unlike bacteria, cryptosporidium survives for a long time in the environment in a protective shell called an oocyst. Oocysts are resistant to chlorine and other disinfectants used to treat water but are effectively removed by other physical treatment barriers.
- How can humans get infected with cryptosporidia and what are the symptoms?
- It can spread from person to person by faecal-oral contact, e.g. unwashed hands after visiting the toilet or changing nappies. Contact with farm animals, their bedding or faeces (stools/droppings) may also be a source, as is drinking infected milk or water. Typically, cryptosporidia causes a watery, foul-smelling diarrhoea, with up to 10 or more visits to the toilet per day. Most people also have abdominal cramps, flatulence (wind) and bloating. Some may have nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting together with poor appetite. There can be a slight fever and weight loss is common. Children may also develop a cough. Illness usually lasts between 5 - 14 days, but in extreme cases, may go on for a month. It is most common in children aged 1 - 5 years, but can also occur at any age.
- Can cryptosporidia causing organisms get into my water supply?
- These organsims are effectivley removed from the water supply during the treatment process and are unlikely to be found in drinking water. There have been no outbreaks of cryptosporidosis associated with the drinking water supplied by us.
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