Irish tourists traveling to and from Spain have been warned about the dangers of contracting the cryptosporidium parasite, nicknamed ‘crypto,’ which leads to cryptosporidiosis — an illness that causes watery diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.
Extreme weather in the Mediterranean has reportedly accelerated the spread of cryptosporidiosium between August and September this year. Combined with an influx of travellers looking to take advantage of the weather, the crypto parasite has had ample opportunity to thrive throughout October.
Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include watery diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, weight loss, dehydration, and nausea. It infects and spreads quickly across children, but swimmers of public pools and those drinking untreated water are also likely to catch the bug.
Ireland’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued the urgent warning to tourists on October 13. It noted that cryptosporidiosis has particularly concentrated in Salou, Catalonia and urged holidaymakers to:
- Wash hands frequently,
- Avoid untreated tap water and ice, and
- Try not to swim in the pool or sea.
Many Irish holidaymakers returning home have reportedly caught the bug and are reporting signs of gastrointestinal illness. It’s an unfortunate one to two weeks of symptoms.
Between 2009 and 2017 in the US, only one crypto’ parasite-related death was recorded. Only 287 cases required hospitalization, but 200,000 deaths are recorded each year in sub-Saharan Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nepal combined.
Anyone who is immunocompromised, from smokers to those with chronic diseases like HIV, is also at serious risk of the disease.