Jessica Mathews /

Local residents and others across the state are being advised to take precautions around livestock following recent cases of a parasitic illness in Livingston and some surrounding counties.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reminding people of steps they can take to keep themselves safe and healthy when touching or working around livestock. MDHHS and local health departments have been investigating an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in residents in Livingston, Ingham and Oakland counties.

The illnesses are believed to have been caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium and occurred after people came into contact with a group of sick calves. To date, a total of 12 people between the ages of 19 and 56 became sick with diarrhea and other symptoms between November 15th – 21st. There is one confirmed, four probable and seven suspect cases.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite found in the stool of infected people or animals. Infected calves and other livestock can spread it even if they don’t seem sick. If a person’s hands, drinking water, food or recreational water are contaminated with small amounts of infected stool from either livestock or people, they could swallow the parasite and become sick.

The state says the parasite is not spread through properly cooked meat from animals or pasteurized milk or dairy products.

Health officials remind health care providers to ask about animal exposures when evaluating and treating patients for diarrheal illnesses.

Any Cryptosporidiosis cases should be reported to the local health department.

More information is available in the provided link.