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Physical injuries like broken bones and traumatic brain injuries are not the only types of injuries that can occur in and around water. Sometimes, the immediate cause of an injury can be microscopic. Cryptosporidium is the name of a protozoan that can cause a condition known as cryptosporidiosis, an illness characterized by diarrhea and other related symptoms. While some cases of cryptosporidiosis resolve on their own, others can be persistent and require medical intervention to resolve. This is especially true where the patient has a weakened or compromised immune system such as children, the elderly, and those with diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Cryptosporidium can infect humans and live in the lower intestine for up to five weeks. Spores of cryptosporidium can then be excreted in the feces of a mammal and infect a new victim.
How Do I Contract Cryptosporidiosis?
A person has an increased risk of contracting cryptosporidiosis if he or she:
- Swims in a pool that is not sufficiently sanitized. Chlorine may not be enough to kill all strains of Cryptosporidium.
- People who drink unfiltered and untreated water (such as campers and hikers who do not carry a filtration system with them); and
- Swimmers who unintentionally swallow contaminated pool water.
Even cities and municipalities that treat their water may not treat it sufficiently to kill Cryptosporidiosis spores. Typically the use of a membrane or specialized filtration process will remove spores from water so that it is safe to drink. A person who is concerned about spores in his or her drinking water can also boil the water to kill any spores that are in the water.
Spores can also contaminate food and pass to humans through this method.
How is Cryptosporidiosis Treated?
In a healthy person, cryptosporidiosis will typically resolve itself after a few days without specialized medical treatment. Because diarrhea is often associated with cryptosporidiosis, individuals should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Some anti-diarrheal medications may also be taken to help reduce diarrhea.
In children, pregnant women, HIV-positive individuals or the elderly, cryptosporidiosis may require more aggressive treatment. The risk of dehydration is especially present in young children and infants. Those with HIV may also require specialized medicine that improves their immune system enough to where the person’s immune system can fight off the infection on its own.
Even a healthy person who does not seek medical treatment can experience lost wages due to several days of missed work; more severe cases of cryptosporidiosis can result in weeks of missed work, expensive doctors’ visits and prescription medication and (in some cases) hospital or emergency room visits.
Am I Entitled to Compensation if I Am Infected with Cryptosporidiosis?
You may be entitled to monetary compensation if you or a loved one contract cryptosporidiosis and suffer an expense or monetary loss as a result. Compensation will depend on whether you are able to establish that someone else’s carelessness caused or contributed to the presence of the spore and your exposure to it. This can result in cases where, for example:
- A pool owner does not take appropriate measures to sanitize the pool for others to use it, especially if a pool user defecates or otherwise contaminates the pool;
- A restaurant does not take appropriate measures to keep food uncontaminated (for instance, by ensuring employees wash their hands thoroughly before handling food or utensils after using the bathroom);
- A city or municipality does not use approved and appropriate filtration techniques designed to remove or kill Cryptosporidium present in the water before allowing others to drink the water.
A thorough investigation is usually needed to determine the precise cause of your infection and whether someone else’s negligence contributed to your illness. Contact Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 to discuss your case and learn what compensation you may be entitled to.