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The Northern Territory Disease Control Bulletin



The Northern Territory Disease Control Bulletin

Other title

Disease Control Bulletin


Territory Health Services, Centre for Disease Control


Northern Territory disease control bulletin; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Northern Territory disease control bulletin






Date:2002-03; This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).




Communicable diseases; Reporting; Northern Territory; Statistics; Periodicals

Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

Place of publication



Northern Territory disease control bulletin


v. 9 no. 1

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



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The Northern Territory Disease Control Bulletin Vol 9, No.1, March 2002 12 ************ Cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Darwin and Palmerston Peter Markey, CDC Darwin The 2001-02 wet season heralded another outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in the suburbs of Darwin and Palmerston. Crytosporidiosis is caused by a parasitic infection of the gastrointestinal tract that produces a self-limiting illness characterised by profuse, watery diarrhoea that can last from a few days to 2-3 weeks. It is a zoonosis, but is commonly spread by faecal-oral transmission, typically through childcare centres or swimming pools. Effective treatment is limited to re-hydration. There was a gradual increase in the number of sporadic cases during December and January in the Darwin district. The outbreak was recognised in the first week of February when a cluster of 5 cases was reported in one day, mostly from Palmerston. Since then, there has been between 3 and 8 cases per week from the greater Darwin region. The outbreak curve is shown in the Figure below. Figure Cases of cryptosporidiosis in the greater Darwin region by week, Nov 2001 - Mar 2002 At the time of writing there were 33 laboratory confirmed cases since February 1st, 24 (73%) of these being in children under 5. Investigation into the outbreak involved administering the usual questionnaire with added questions concerning childcare facilities attended and swimming pools used in the two to three weeks prior to the illness. A total of four childcare centres were attended by more than one case, with the most at any one centre being four. Each centre was contacted and given advice concerning notifying parents, avoiding water play, cleaning practices and exclusion policy. Environmental health officers were notified and the centres visited to review practices. In the second week of the outbreak there was a report of several tri-athletes (up to 11) becoming ill with a diarrhoeal illness after having swum in a particular community swimming pool. The cause of this illness was not confirmed by stool sample, but at the same time there had been 3 or 4 confirmed cases of cryptosproidiosis in others who had swum in the same pool. All together there were a total of 7 notified cases with a history of contact with that particular pool. Environmental health officers investigated and the pool was closed for 48 hours for hyperchlorination. This event generated a degree of media interest in the outbreak. The outbreak continues with 4-6 cases a week being reported from Darwin/Palmerston area. There has also been a long, widespread and severe outbreak over the past 4 months in Queensland. Editorial Breaking the cycle of transmission depends on the publics awareness of how to control its spread. To prevent transmission, doctors and other health care providers should instruct those with diarrhoea not to attend childcare, school or work until at least a day or preferably 2 days after the diarrhoea has settled. Taking a stool specimen to make a definite diagnosis should be considered. Importantly, anyone with cryptosporidiosis should be told not to swim, wade or paddle in public or other pools while they are unwell. Additionally water activities should be avoided for at least 2 weeks after the diarrhoea has resolved as the organism is excreted for several weeks after the symptoms resolve and is quite resistant to chlorine. The best prevention for all faecal-orally transmitted diseases also includes careful hand-washing after going to the toilet and always before preparing food and not seating or changing nappies of young children and babies on food preparation surfaces. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 19 -N ov 03 -D ec 17 -D ec 01 -J an 15 -J an 29 -J an 12 -F eb 26 -F eb 12 -M ar Week commencing C as es