Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning swimmers who dip into pools and water playgrounds this summer about outbreaks of a parasitic infection.
Cryptosporidium, also known as crypto, is a parasitic diarrhea-causing infection that can make people sick for up to three weeks.
It is spread through contact with the feces of an infected person and a pool is an ideal place to have that encounter. That’s because children with diarrhea who are infected may go into pools.
Parents are asked to warn their children not to swallow pool water and parents should not let children go in a pool if they have diarrhea.
Parents are also encouraged to take regular bathroom breaks with their young kids who may not take themselves.
Symptoms of crypto include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea. If diarrhea lasts longer than three days, medical treatment should be sought.
Crypto can be fatal in third world countries where it causes dehydration and poor nutrition.
Contamination comes from animals infected and can plague wells, water treatment systems and the food we eat that are grown with contaminated water. Raw milk and meat, apple cider, salads and raw vegetables have caused outbreaks of crypto.
The numbers of cases in the U.S. have tripled since 2014, reports the CDC. There were 32 reports linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds last year compared with half that two years earlier.
It is not recommended to up the level of chlorine in a pool because crypto is difficult to kill with chlorine and chlorine contains its own risk factors.
Toxic levels of chlorine gas forced 4,800 people to visit U.S. emergency rooms in 2012, reports the CDC. A closed environment can make the effects even stronger.
Burns that cause rashes, blisters and pain result from a toxic exposure of chlorine, and can affect the eyes, throat and lungs. Chlorine was used as a chemical weapon in World War 1.
Pool chemicals should be properly handled and stored. Do not assume that they are inert.