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Michigan officials urge residents working with livestock to be cautious following parasitic illness outbreak

(CBS DETROIT) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging residents to take precautions as it investigates an outbreak of a parasitic illness in Livingston, Ingham and Oakland counties.

According to MDHHS, the reported illness is believed to be caused by a parasite, Cryptosporidium, which is typically found in the stool of infected people and animals. 

A total of 12 people between the ages of 19 and 56 were reported to be sick between Nov. 15-21. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, fever and weight loss. Officials say it can last for several weeks.  

Health officials say infected calves and livestock may not appear sick. The parasite can spread if someone's hands, drinking water, food or recreational water are contaminated with small amounts of the infected stool. It does not spread through properly cooked meat or pasteurized milk or dairy products.

People can take the following steps to stay healthy when handling calves and other livestock:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and running water after touching calves and other livestock. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not work against Cryptosporidium.
  • Clean and disinfect items and surfaces that could have manure on them.
  • Avoid eating food in areas with manure from calves or other livestock.
  • Do not eat or drink raw milk or dairy products.
  • Have sick livestock evaluated by a veterinarian.

Anyone who becomes sick is advised to notify their health care providers if there has been any contact with calves and other livestock, avoid cooking for others for at least two weeks after symptoms stop, and not to go swimming until two weeks after the symptoms stop.

Officials say Cryptosporidiosis should be reported to a local health department.

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