An infected person with diarrhea who used the East Athens Community Park splash pad earlier this month is the likely source for the recent spread of the parasite Cryptosporidium confirmed to have infected at least 16 children, the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department and the Clarke County Health Department determined this week.
According to a statement, the CCHD was alerted Aug. 11 to several cases of children falling ill after attending a private party at the splash pad on Aug. 3. As part of its investigation, the health department contacted Leisure Services Aug. 12 for information and took water samples soon after. Water samples were submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the next day, and while final CDC test results are not expected until later this week, the health department confirmed samples taken from infected children indicate Cryptosporidium, commonly known as Crypto.
One of the leading causes of recreational water illness, Crypto is spread when people swallow water recently contaminated by an infected person’s fecal matter.
Once the health department determined Crypto as a probable cause, staff at Leisure Services initiated a precautionary disinfectant treatment at the splash pad prior to reopening it to the public. The treatment used more than twice the amount of chlorine shown by CDC studies to eradicate Crypto and was used for a longer period of time than required by the health department, according to ACC Leisure Services Park Services Division Maintenance Supervisor Keith Kirkland.