CDC Warns Of Parasite Lurking In Public Pools, Water Parks

July 02, 2019 - 4:34 pm

(WWJ) Consider this before you dive into a public pool or hit the slides at the water park: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the water may be contaminated.

According to Michele Hlavsa with the CDC, there's concern this season about a particular parasite called cryptosporidium, or crypto for short, which causes diarrhea that can last up to three weeks in otherwise healthy people.

Crypto is tough, and resistant to chlorine.

"At chlorine levels the CDC recommends for pools, most germs are killed within minutes," Hlavsa told WWJ's Dr. Deanna Lites. "Cryptosporidium can survive for seven or more days,"

So how does crypto get into the water?

"Unfortunately, we swimmers bring it into the water," Hlavsa said. "If we have diarrhea and we have a diarrheal incident in the water, we contaminate the water. And other swimmers can swallow that water and become sick themselves."

The bottom line: Don't go swimming if you have diarrhea and don't let your child go into a pool if he or she has it. Try not to swallow water while swimming and check a public pool's inspection score before you go swimming. 

Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis generally begin 2 to 10 days (average 7 days) after becoming infected with the parasite. The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea, but can also include stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss.

According to the CDC, it's a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the U.S. Although it's almost never fatal, one death has been reported since 2009, according to the CDC. Another 287 people were hospitalized between 2009 and 2017.

For more information on cryptosporidium from the CDC, visit this link.