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Recently, several cases of cryptosporidiosis have been reported in the western Alpes-Maritimes. What is this disease you get from drinking tap water?

On June 7, 2023, the Alpes-Maritimes Regional Health Agency published a press release warning about the quality of running water. In the communes of Saint Cézaire, Peymeinade, Le Tignet, Spéracèdes and Cabris, it was advised not to drink tap water, due to a risk of cryptosporidiosis. But what is it?

What is cryptosporidiosis and where does it come from?

Cryptosporidiosis comes from a parasite, from which it takes its name, which is called cryptosporidium, present naturally in the environment. Outbreaks are due to ingestion of this bacterium, which can be found in the tap water system in case of mistreatment of her.

Water, but also food, can be contaminated with feces where this parasite is found : “often water from public or private swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, lakes or streams,” notes the MSD Manual.

It also specifies: “The main causes include swallowing contaminated water in swimming pools or water play areas, contact with infected cattle and contact with infected people in childcare settings”.

It is a relatively common disease, as an example “in the United States from 2009 to 2017, 444 outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis were reported, resulting in 7,465 cases in 40 states and Puerto Rico”, notes the MSD Manual.

What are the symptoms of cryptosporidiosis?

According to the ARS, the symptoms are mainly “diarrhea, sometimes with vomiting, severe abdominal pain, fatigue and mild fever. The infection can also be asymptomatic. The incubation period is on average one week (2 to 14 days). ” If one is in good health (immunocompetent), one recovers spontaneously in a few days (which can go up to a few weeks).

On the other hand, immunocompromised people (carriers of AIDS for example) the intestinal symptoms can be more severe, Other organs can be affected, such as the pancreas, the respiratory tract or even biliary.

To diagnose it, it is necessary to examine the stool of the patient. If the disease persists in immunocompetent people, it can be treated with nitazoxanide.

What precautions to apply if there are cases around your home?

The ARS recommends drinking bottled water, especially for fragile people (immunocompromised, infants) or else boiling the water for at least two minutes. The parasite does not resist boiling. “Tap water can always be used for cooking food, showering, household uses (dishes, laundry, etc.)” specifies the ARS.

Another tip: wash your hands regularly and disinfect well behind you if you carry the germ, because it is transmissible.

Sources: MSD Manual, ARS

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