Press Release: Cryptosporidium illnesses prompt Baker City voluntary boil-water notice, City water system to be flushed, municipal pool to close for cleaning

BAKER CITY, Ore. - The Baker City Public Works and the Baker County Health Department are warning Baker City residents to boil their water until further
notice after confirming five cases of illness due to exposure to the microscopic parasite cryptosporidium.

All the cases are believed to have been exposed to the parasite between July 12 and July 26. County health and city officials, working with epidemiologists
from the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division, believe the Baker City water system, which is pulled from a 10,000-acre watershed and serves approximately 10,000 residents, may be the source of the contamination.

The city plans to flush the water system in the coming days, and it is closing the municipal pool, Sam-o Swim Pool, so it can be drained and cleaned.

City officials say residents should not drink city water without boiling it first. They should allow the water to boil for one full minute, and let the water cool before using it, or use bottled water. Until further notice, boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.

Pets also can be affected by cryptosporidium, said Dr. DeBess. Pet owners should boil water for their pets as well or provide bottled water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis, the disease caused by cryptosporidium exposure,
is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps or pain.
  • Dehydration.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Weight loss.

Symptoms typically appear five to 10 days after exposure.  In persons with healthy immune systems, symptoms usually last about 1 to 2 weeks. The symptoms may go in cycles in which you may seem to get better for a few days, then feel worse again before the illness ends.

People with compromised immune systems could require treatment and should contact their primary care provider.   Other CDC recommendations:

Healthy Swimming

  • Do not swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Do not swallow pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean that it's too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside. Germs can be spread in and around the pool.
  • Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and waterbefore they go swimming. Invisible amounts of fecal matter can end up in the pool.

Hand Washing

    1. Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
    2. Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
    3. Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice through to a friend!
    4. Rinse hands well under running water.
    5. Dry your hands using a disposable paper towel or air dryer.
    6. Use your disposable paper towel, if possible, to turn off the faucet.

For more information on cryptosporidium: