Summer is around the corner and before pools across the United States open, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report reminded us of the dangers of swimming-related parasites and how we can swim healthy.
According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report report, from 2000 to 2014 there were 493 reported infectious disease outbreaks from “treated recreational water” that affected 27,219 people and left eight dead in 46 states and Puerto Rico. Additionally, 58 percent of these outbreaks were caused from the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum, also known as Crypto.
What is Crypto?
Crypto is a highly contagious parasite that causes a diarrheal disease called Cryptosporidiosis. Crypto presents a challenge because typical levels of chlorine that are safe to swim in do not destroy it. When an outbreak occurs, swimmers can become gravely ill, the pool must shut down until the Crypto is cleared and the facility can be exposed to lawsuits to cover medical bills and other expenses.
How is Crypto spread in pools?
Crypto spreads in pools when swimmers swallow water that has been contaminated with fecal matter (i.e., swim diapers or sick swimmers). Crypto is easily spread in swimming pools, splash parks and water parks, and can even spread from contaminated drinking water or from handling infected animals.
How to protect yourself from Crypto
The CDC outlined following rules to better protect the health of you and your family from germs, like Crypto, in pools, hot tubs and water parks:
- Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea. If Crypto is the cause of the diarrhea, wait until 2 weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
- Check the pools, hot tubs and water playground inspection scores.
- Before getting in the water, use a test strip from your local retailer or pool supply store to check if the water’s pH and bromine or free chlorine level are correct.
- Don’t swallow the water.
- Take kids on bathroom breaks hourly, and change diapers in a diaper-changing area and away from the water.
Additionally, alternative forms of pool sanitation can help prevent and destroy Crypto. An independent study from the University of Colorado found that Clear Comfort’s advanced oxidation (AOP) sanitation achieved more than 99.99 percent (4-log) reduction of Cryptosporidium.