South Australia is battling more than the hottest month in the last 100 years. There has been a surge in gastroenteritis caused by the microorganism cryptosporidium, in this part of the continent.
The 228 known cases this year of the parasitic outbreak compare with just 52 , for the same period last year.
AdvertisementCommunicable Disease Control Branch director Ann Koehler described the number as just 'the tip of the iceberg'.
'We usually estimate that about 10 per cent of people with diarrhoea will go to the doctor,' she said. 'Our research has found children sharing baths have contracted cryptosporidiosis, so we are urging parents with children who are infected or have been, that they make sure these children bath alone.
'Make sure anyone with diarrhoea does not prepare food for others and ensure that those who are infected stay out of shared baths and swimming pools', she added.
The cryptosporidium parasite is known to cause diarrhoea, fever and vomiting, with symptoms lasting two weeks or longer. It can even kill the extremely frail.
There is no drug treatment for the infection and the organism is highly resistant to chlorine. The Health Department yesterday issued public health warning posters to all schools and swimming pools in the state and warned parents through advertisements in newspapers.
Health authorities have given guidelines to reducing the risk of infection as:
* washing hands with soap and water after using the toilet, before eating and after handling animals.
* not sharing bath water with others.
* staying out of swimming pools when infected and not using pools for 14 days after symptoms cease.
* avoiding child care, school or work until symptoms have ceased.