Gastroenteritis cases escalate

A STEEP rise in cases of gastroenteritis in Central Queensland has been linked to a microscopic parasite which is very difficult to eradicate.

CQ's public health physician Dr James Smith said there had been 53 confirmed cases of cryptosporidium - about five times the normal rate - and he believed there were many more cases that had not been confirmed.

Crypto causes diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and headaches and can lead to severe and long-lasting infections in people with weakened immune systems.

Swimming pools are a known factor in its spread and Dr Smith said pool owners should be very careful to make sure children with diarrhoea stayed away from the water.

"Anyone with diarrhoea should not swim in a pool for at least two weeks after symptoms stop, as crypto can be shed in faeces even after symptoms have finished," he said.

The best protection from crypto is thorough hand washing, before preparing and eating meals and after using the toilet and changing nappies.

Gastroenteritis is highly infectious and doctors warn that sufferers can easily become dehydrated.

Fitzroy River Water yesterday told The Morning Bulletin that it had tested samples of raw and treated water at each of its four drinking water schemes as recently as February 22 and found no crypto or giardia.



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