UPDATE | Crypto parasite works its way through family

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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) – UPDATE 5/17/19 @ 8:30 a.m.
Sickness has worked its way through almost an entire family.

The Portsmouth City Health Department in Ohio says “a number” of Scioto County and Lawrence County residents may have become ill with Crypto in connection with animals brought to the Lucasville Trade Days event from April 27-28.

They became sick after coming in contact with a parasite called Cryptosporidiosis, or 'Crypto' for short.

Health officials say several people in Lawrence and Scioto County have become sick and they have linked it back to cows and other animals that were at the Lucasville Trade Days event at the end of April.

According to health officials, the parasite can live in the intestine of people and animals and can be passed on in a number of different ways. Health officials say it is highly contagious.

Symptoms of Crypto can include a low-grade fever, severe abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea. However, symptoms can take anywhere from a couple of days to more than a week to appear.

Katherine Russell says her sister-in-law bought a calf at Lucasville Trade Days and brought it home, only to find out the hard way that the calf had the parasite in its intestine.

Russell says her sister-in-law and other family members became sick from the parasite, developing nasty symptoms. They were hospitalized because of it.

Russell says her 2-year-old son was later diagnosed without even being around the calf. He became so sick he had to be hospitalized.

"His whole body was swollen," said Russell. "Everything on him was swollen. He wasn't healthy at all."

Despite doing everything in her power to keep it from spreading, Katherine also was diagnosed with it and had to be put in the hospital.

"I wore gloves and bleached everything, but I still caught it," said Russell. "They diagnosed me with it and then my blood pressure dropped. It's just crazy the effect it can have on your body."

Crypto is resistant to a lot of common disinfectants and hand sanitizer will not keep it from spreading.

"They told us the only thing that will rapidly kill it is hydrogen peroxide," said Russell. "We have pretty much invested stock in hydrogen peroxide and we have wiped down practically every inch of the house."

Russell says her 7-month-old daughter also became sick with the parasite. She wasn't even around her mom or brother who were sick.

The family is still recovering at home, but are now warning others about what they have experienced, hoping to keep this from spreading to others.

"Watch what you are handling and what you are eating because you can contract it from anybody," said Russell. "If somebody is infected with it and you don't know it, then someone is going to end up getting deathly sick. If you look it up on the government website, it can be fatal. It can dehydrate you, mess with your intestines and be fatal. I just watch to encourage parents to watch what their children are around."

UPDATE 5/16/19 @ 9 p.m.
Katelyn Dickess and her husband have always had a love for animals.

"You know, my husband was in 4-H when he was younger and he was showing steers and stuff like that,” she said.

They're hoping their 2-year-old son will follow in his dad's footsteps.

"We thought about maybe our son doing it when he gets a little bit older,” Dickess said.

But she's rethinking that plan after a friend of hers contracted a potentially deadly parasite from a calf bought at Lucasville Trade Days at the end of April.

"The poor baby was just so sick,” she said.

The parasite, Cryptosporidiosis, commonly called "crypto," is an intestinal parasite that can be contracted from infected cattle and other animals and spread by human-to-human contact.

"Then it can be spread to other people and that's from touching hands and then them touching their mouth or you caring for your kids and touching your mouth," Davis said.

Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting.

According to regional epidemiologist Molly Davis, the parasite spreads quickly and is highly contagious.

"You inadvertently get it on your hands when you’re dealing with the calf and then if you kind of forget to wash your hands and you absent-mindedly touch your mouth or you don’t wash your hands then you eat that’s how you get it,” Davis said.

There are eight cases of crypto in Lawrence and Scioto counties. Three have been confirmed through lab tests, and two people have been hospitalized.

Dickess’ friend, Katherine Russell, and her family were exposed to the illness from a calf a family member bought at trade days. It's impacted her, her 2-year-old Mason and 7-month-old Nellie.

Both Russell and her son were sent to Columbus for emergency treatment.

"It just got really bad on him. He just got worse from there,” Dickess said.

Although the family is now out of the hospital and recovering, Dickess says she's going to do her research before they buy any livestock in the future.

"We’re definitely going to make sure that were very careful when were ready to buy,” she said.

Health officials say the parasite is resistant to many common disinfectants. Infected people can be contagious for several weeks after exposure.

Health officials believe some people may be sick with an intestinal parasite contracted from infected cattle and other animals, the Portsmouth City Health Department said Wednesday.

It says “a number” of Scioto County and Lawrence County residents may have become ill in connection with animals brought to the Lucasville Trade Days event from April 27-28.

Health officials say Cryptosporidiosis, also known as Crypto, is a diarrheal disease caused by a single-celled parasite. It can be spread by humans, animals or contaminated food and water.

The most common symptom is watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Anyone who believes they may have been infected is asked to call regional epidemiologist Molly Davis at 740-354-8931.

According to health officials, Crypto is resistant to many common disinfectants. Hand sanitizer is not effective to avoid it. Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective way to keep the disease from spreading.

Symptoms usually happen a week after exposure. The infection tends to be more severe in pregnant women, young children and people with compromised immune systems.

Infected people can be contagious for several weeks after exposure.