By Lance Mihm
Officials at the Auglaize County Health Department reported this morning the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating an outbreak of cryptosporidium and giardia parasites in the New Bremen area, which closed local swimming pools last week.
The microscopic parasites live in the intestines of humans and animals. Infection occurs when a person swallows the parasite in contaminated water or food or picks up the parasite from surfaces contaminated with stool from an infected person. Common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, headache and loss of appetite.
The New Bremen pool, along with the Minster municipal pool and the pool at the YMCA between the two villages, were closed down last week after the health department received a heavy amount of calls with people reporting diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and nausea.
The New Bremen pool tested positive for the parasites and the other two pools were not tested, only closed as a precautionary. All three pools were super chlorinated and reopened Saturday.
Two Auglaize County residents and two Mercer County residents who had been in the New Bremen area have tested positive for the parasite, which cannot be destroyed by normal levels of chlorine. The local and state departments are conducting an assessment of the situation and believe as many as 60 people, mostly children, have been affected by the parasites. Health officials said to prevent the spread of the disease, people should practice thorough hand-washing before eating. Also, anyone experiencing symptoms should not swim for at least two weeks after the symptoms have stopped. People experiencing symptoms have been asked to provide stool samples to the health department for testing.
"Controlling the outbreak and preventing secondary cases among county residents remains our prime concerns," county Health Commissioner Charlotte Parsons said. "Gathering more detailed information for the CDC's analysis allows us to participate in the national effort to prevent outbreaks in communities all over the country."