A spike in gastro cases has lead Queensland health authorities to urge people to stay away from public pools and water parks.
More than 823 cases of cryptosporidiosis – a gastrointestinal disease that commonly causes diarrhoea in young children – have been reported in Queensland since the start of 2024.
The state has already surpassed the annual total cases reported in both 2021 (569) and 2022 (568).
Health authorities are urging Queenslanders who have recently experienced diarrhoea symptoms to avoid swimming pools, water parks, and other recreational water facilities for at least 14 days after symptoms ease.
Queensland chief health officer Dr John Gerrard said cryptosporidium was usually acquired through the ingestion of contaminated water or food, or through contact with infected individuals or animals.
“Drinking or accidentally swallowing water contaminated with Cryptosporidium parasites is a common mode of transmission,” he said.
“This can occur in various settings including swimming pools, water parks, and other recreational water facilities where water may be contaminated with faecal matter.”
The majority of cases have been reported in metropolitan areas, though cases have also occurred in West Moreton, Darling Downs, Central Queensland, Townsville, and Mackay regions.
The rise in cases is not unique to Queensland, with NSW and Victoria also reporting similar increases in cryptosporidiosis notifications in recent weeks.
The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis is diarrhoea, but can also include nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, and loss of appetite.
Dr Gerrard said Queenslanders can help to prevent the spread of infection by washing their hands thoroughly after using the toilet, changing nappies or cleaning up animal faeces.
Children with diarrhoea should not return to childcare or school until diarrhoea has ceased for 24 hours.
Washing fruit and vegetables before eating them, boiling any untreated water and then cooling it before drinking, and avoid swimming in rivers, creeks or dams within a week after heavy rain will also help minimise risk.
There is no specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis, however it is important to stay hydrated.
People experiencing severe illness, difficulty maintaining adequate fluid intake or long-lasting diarrhoea should seek medical advice.
If you are unwell or concerned, please contact your healthcare professional or 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).