State Fair Petting Zoo Blamed for New Mexico’s Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is investigating a statewide outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis associated with exposure to petting zoo livestock at the New Mexico State Fair, which took place from September 7-17, 2023.

 There have been three patients with laboratory-confirmed Cryptosporidiosis infections and an additional 15 clinically compatible cases who report exposure to the NM State Fair. Cases reside in multiple counties across the state.

Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by protozoan species (most commonly Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis). The most common presenting sign is frequent, non-bloody, watery diarrhea. Other signs and symptoms include abdominal cramps, fatigue, vomiting, anorexia, and weight loss. The illness is usually self-limiting but can be dangerous to the immunocompromised. The incubation period averages seven days, ranging from 2 to 14 days.

The protozoa occur in various hosts, such as mammals, birds, and reptiles. Outbreaks have been associated with contamination of municipal water supplies and swimming pools and interactions with livestock.

Due to this increase in Cryptosporidiosis cases, NMDOH urges medical providers to consider testing for Cryptosporidiosis in patients with non-bloody, watery diarrhea, particularly those with exposure to the State Fair or exposure to someone who attended the State Fair. 

Patients with Cryptosporidium infection should be given instructions to refrain from swimming until two weeks after their symptoms resolve and should not serve food or provide care to vulnerable populations while symptomatic. 

Children with Cryptosporidiosis should not attend daycare until their symptoms resolve.

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