TARPON SPRINGS - The city of Tarpon Springs was notified Thursday, Aug. 7, by the Pinellas County Department of Health that patients in three confirmed cases of cryptosporidium had been at the Tarpon Springs Splash Park during the incubation period.
All three patients attended the park during the fourth week of July.
The City completely replaced and treated the water and all associated water systems at the Splash Park on Aug. 1.
"In an abundance of caution," the city has temporarily closed the park while the water and associated systems are re-treated. City officials plan to reopen the splash park on Saturday, Aug. 9, 10 a.m.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is asking for the public's help to prevent the spread of cryptosporidiosis (crypto), a disease that spreads easily in households, child-care settings and through swimming in contaminated water.
Crypto is a parasitic disease that can cause loose, watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and slight fever.
As of July 29, 58 cases of cryptosporidiosis had been reported to DOH- Pinellas. Many of those infected have reported spending time at water parks or public pools during the incubation period.
The highest rates of infection are in those younger than 18. Health officials are concerned that the numbers of cases could increase if proper precautions are not followed.
Cryptosporidium is often spread by hands contaminated with feces during toilet use or diaper-changing. From the hands, it can spread to surfaces, toys and food. It also spreads easily in water, including chlorinated swimming pools. When the cysts are swallowed, the person becomes infected.
To help prevent crypto, practice proper hand hygiene before preparing or eating food; after using the toilet; before and after tending to someone who is ill with diarrhea and after changing diapers.
To keep swimming pools free from contamination, children and adults should not swim in a pool or enter a spa until at least two weeks after they have completely recovered from a diarrheal illness.
DOH-Pinellas recommends that parents and caregivers take these steps to avoid pool contamination:
• Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers often.
• Change diapers in a bathroom and not at the poolside as germs can spread to surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness.
• Shower before entering the water.
• Wash their hands with soap and water after changing a child's diaper.
Those concerned about their symptoms should contact their health-care provider.