Given that Zoombezi Bay sees more than 42,000 visitors every summer, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that a so-called “Crypto” epidemic erupted there this past summer, resulting in stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting of Zoombezi patrons.
Health officials from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), say that at least 19 people were infected with a diarrheal disease after visiting the water park in July. Of that group, all have tested positive for cryptosporidiosis.
According to the CDC, cryptosporidiosis is “a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites, Cryptosporidium, that can live in the intestines of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as ‘Crypto’”.
There are many several ways this disease may be contracted- by eating uncooked food contaminated with crypto, accidentally swallowing something that has come into contact with the stool of an infected person or animal, or by simply putting something in one’s mouth, as in how little kids put everything in their mouths. In the case of the Zoombezi Bay Crypto it spread through contaminated recreational water, which patrons of the park swallowed.
“Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as “Crypto.” It can be easily spread
through a parasite that lives in the water and has an outer shell that can resist chlorine. People get it when they ingest the parasite by drinking or swallowing water,” Biology teacher Adam Walters said.
In response to this outbreak, Zoombezi Bay has increased their chlorine levels in an attempt to kill the easily-spread disease. Employees have begun conducting chlorine tests every two hours.
John Gannon, general manager of Zoombezi Bay, said that “Water park or pool patrons should wash with soap before and after going in the water and avoid swallowing any water. Parents also should take their toddlers and young children on frequent bathroom breaks,” according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Other precautions the water park has taken include setting up signs warning against swimming while sick and signs warning against loose infant or adult diapers, along with sanitation equipment in the kiddie pool and bi-weekly tests for various parasites.
“I was a lifeguard at Zoombezi Bay this summer and when we heard about the rumors of the parasite that was found, we immediately set up signs that told all patrons to stay out of the water if they were sick,” Junior, Cossette Toomajian said.
At least 107 cases of Cryptosporidium have been reported so far this year in Columbus – including both Franklin and Delaware counties- more cases than the health departments saw in the past three years combine
d. All but about a dozen or so of the cases were reported in July, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
“We’re still trying the connect all the dots, with a focus on prevention. All it takes is one person carrying the parasite to spread this infection to multiple people,” Spokeswoman for the Delaware General Health District, Traci Whittaker said, according to the Dispatch.
This illness not only affects the people of Central Ohio, but those throughout the country. Maricopa County in Phoenix, Arizona has faced “Crypto” as well in many of their public swimming pools.
According to CNN, “More than 100 people have been sickened at about 20 public recreational water facilities.”
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) and the Environmental Services Department (MCESD) responded to the growing concerns of the illness since it was first reported on Aug. 4.
“Symptoms of the disease usually last one to two weeks. During the past two decades, Crypto has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (recreational water and drinking water) in humans in the United States. The parasite is found in every region of the United States and throughout the world,” Walters said.