Firefighters need to lug heavy equipment, brave scorching fires and rescue trapped people, but one group of firefighters in Indiana and Michigan faced an unusual complication from a barn fire in June - an outbreak of intestinal parasites.
On June 6, firefighters responded to an Amish barn fire in Quincy Township near the Michigan/ Indiana border, according to reports from the local television stateion WTVB.
The 34 responding firefighters spent six hours extinguishing the blaze from the barn at the Nate Eicher farm, where officials estimated damages to be $85,000.
The firefighters climbed into each pen and pulled the calves out, rescuing 180 of the estimated 240 calves that were in the barn, according to one report.
A week later, 20 of the 34 responders came down with a mysterious illness: Diarrhea, cramping and gas so bad, one firefighter had to be hospitalized.
The culprit? Cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes a disease known as crypto that typically infects people with compromised immune systems, rather than working firefighters, health authorities found.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a journal from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published the study online Thursday.
The findings highlight a novel work-related disease exposure for firefighters and the need for public education regarding cryptosporidiosis prevention, the authors wrote.
The source of the parasites was water used to extinguish the fire that came from local hydrants and a nearby swimming pool, investigators reported.
In the report, an editorial noted, This is the first reported occupational exposure of firefighters to Cryptosporidium species.
The firefighters got better after visiting doctors and health officials warned the Amish family about the Cryptosporidium-infested swimming pool, the report stated.
Health officials with the National Institutes of Health recommend handwashing and drinking filtered water to prevent an outbreak.