What is Cryptosporidiosis?
Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum. Crypto can live in the intestines of humans and is introduced to pool water through feces. This parasite is common in pools due to young children, swimmers who may have stomach illness, and poor hygiene. People will catch the illness if they drink or swallow contaminated water.
Why is Crypto a problem for pools?
Crypto can survive in chlorine-treated pools for more than 10 days because it is covered by an outer shell that protects it from chlorine. Additionally, there is no way to test water for the parasite. The only way to learn of a contaminated pool is if someone who swam there reports becoming sick. This means pools need to take precautions to prevent Crypto from being introduced in the first place.
In 2016, there were a number of outbreaks in pools across the United States. Below is a list.
- Blountsville, Alabama. The Spring Valley Beach Water Park was closed for a week in August this year due to a presence of the parasite. The park was closed quickly preventing any widespread breakout from happening.
- Raleigh, North Carolina. At least 29 cases were reported by August in Wake County.
- Owatonna, Minnesota. Three different pools were involved in a small outbreak of Cryptosporidium. Extra chlorine was added to the waters and the pools opened back up the following day.
- Phoenix, Arizona. During early August, there was an outbreak declared in Maricopa County with 200 people reported infected. The illness was traced back to 20 pools in the area. Before 2016, there had been less than 200 reported cases combined in the three previous years.
- Columbus, Ohio. In late July there was a mass spread of Crypto that sickened nearly 1,000 people by fall in the Columbus area. This number exceeded the total combined number of cases in the past four years. This was the largest
How can pools protect swimmers from Crypto?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pools use a secondary sanitizer in addition to chlorine that effectively inactivates or destroys the parasite if it is introduced to the water. In addition, the CDC recommends educating staff and patrons in practices that prevent the spread of Crypto and providing patrons with the following guidelines:
- Don’t pee or poop in the water.
- Take a shower before getting in the water.
- Wash hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer isn’t effective.
- Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks
- Check swim diapers often and change them in a bathroom not by the pool
- Avoid swallowing any water and keep it out of your mouth.