The UK is currently facing an alarming rise in crypto, the diarrhea-causing intestinal parasite, not confusing currency. In a report released this month, health officials documented a much higher number of cases than expected so far in 2023. It is not yet clear why crypto is booming in the country, although this increase may be linked to international travel.
In medicine and biology, “crypto” has long been shorthand for Cryptosporidiuma kind of microscopic protozoa which commonly infect the intestine and cause gastrointestinal disease in humans and other animals (the parasites and the diseases they cause are commonly called crypto). The infection can easily spread through direct contact with an infected person’s feces, but cryptoparasites are also hardy enough to survive for months in soil and water.
The most common symptom of crypto is watery diarrhea, followed by cramping, dehydration, and a mild fever. Typically, people are crypto sick for about one to two weeks, although sometimes symptoms can wax and wane for up to a month. And in people with weakened immune systems, the infection can become chronic or life-threatening. The parasite can rarely reach the respiratory tract, causing other problems.
Cryptography is a persistent public health problem worldwide and is a leading cause of waterborne illness in the United States and other countries. But British health authorities have noticed a nationwide increase in cases this year. Their conclusions are detailed in an article published last week in the Eurosurveillance magazine.
The increase in crypto cases appears to have started in August, based on laboratory test results (in the UK and US, every documented case of crypto must be reported to the government). Between mid-August and the end of September, there were more than 2,400 laboratory-confirmed crypto cases in the UK. Summer is supposed to be peak season for crypto, but the surge is much higher than this expected increase. Cases began to slow in late October but remain much higher than normal.
So far, at least, there doesn’t seem to be a simple explanation behind the surge in cryptocurrencies. Officials have not identified any specific sources of exposure or environments that could give rise to a significant outbreak, such as recreational pools or drinking water supplies. But surveys of infected people have provided potential clues. Compared to last year, the percentage of people reporting recent travel to other countries has not changed, but it is possible that this increase is linked to people visiting specific regions or more frequent swimming this summer .
“Our initial findings suggest that swimming (in the UK or abroad), including the use of swimming pools, and overseas travel to various destinations may be behind the current increase” , write the authors of the report.
The team says it is working with travel-related public health agencies in the UK to ensure travelers are informed about crypto, and it is corresponding with other health authorities in Europe to further investigate this increase.
As for the average person worried about catching crypto, some practical steps Things to do include: don’t swallow swimming water (especially if it hasn’t been treated), make sure your meals at home are thoroughly cooked, and avoid unpasteurized milk and other food products. In general, people who have recently experienced diarrhea should also wait at least two weeks before accessing a shared body of water.