Cryptosporidium parvum outbreaks linked to swimming pools and water playgrounds have doubled from 2014 to 2016 in the United States, according to a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by Centers for Disease Control.
Commonly referred to as “Crypto,” this parasitic infection is transmitted by swimmers ingesting contaminated pool water.
In 2016, the CDC got confirmation of 32 Crypto outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds, which compares to the reported 16 outbreaks just two years prior. In addition, the report found that there were 1,940 cases of Crypto in Ohio alone during 2016.
Crypto’s “extreme chlorine tolerance”
Crypto is a chlorine-resistance parasitic infection that causes serious stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and eventual dehydration. According to the report, the emergence of Crypto outbreaks in aquatic facilities results from the parasite’s extreme tolerance to chlorine.
“Cryptosporidium is a germ that can make people sick with diarrhea for up to three weeks,” Michele Hlavsa, lead author of the report and chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, said to CNN.
How to reduce your facility’s risk as a pool operator
Pool operators can help prevent Crypto outbreaks by following the Model Aquatic Health Code, which the CDC developed to educate state and local authorities on healthy and safe best pool practices. The CDC’s MAHC recommends that public pools have a secondary sanitation method, such as UV, ozone and other advanced oxidation systems, to complement their primary chlorine disinfection.
However, UV can only sanitize the microbes, which means that they are still alive, but are unable to reproduce. Ozone oxidizes the microbes, but not as effectively as an hydroxyl-based advanced oxidation system.
An independent study with the University of Colorado found that a pool sanitation technology using an hydroxyl-based advanced oxidation process inactivated 99.99 percent of Crypto in less than one hour. In short, the technology can destroy the parasite rapidly and return a contaminated pool back to a safer, healthier swimming environment.
How to protect yourself as a swimmer
The CDC says swimmers can reduce their risk for Crypto by keeping urine, fecal matter, sweat, blood and dirt out of the pool water. Swimmers can protect themselves by following the CDC’s recommended pre-swim self checklist:
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
- Stay out of the water if you have an open wound (such as, from surgery or a piercing) that is not covered with a waterproof bandage.
- Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just one minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on your body.
To learn more about the University of Colorado’s study on Crypto removal, download the full study here.