Americans who enjoy taking a dip in public pools to cool off during the summer face the danger of encountering “crypto,” a diarrhea-causing fecal parasite that is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cryptosporidium — which causes cryptosporidiosis — can lead to “profuse, watery diarrhea” among healthy adults suffering for as long as three weeks.
“The number of treated recreational water-associated outbreaks caused by cryptosporidium drives the summer seasonal peak in both waterborne cryptosporidiosis outbreaks and cryptosporidiosis outbreaks overall,” according to the CDC, which released a report Friday.
Although it’s almost never fatal, one death has been reported since 2009 — while 287 people were hospitalized between 2009 and 2017, according to the CDC, which found that the US has experienced a 13 percent spike in crypto outbreaks per year over time.
Crypto is usually spread by people — particularly children — who swim too soon after having suffering from diarrhea.
Leading causes include swallowing contaminated water in hot tubs, pools or water playgrounds, as well as contact with infected cattle people in child-care settings, according to the CDC.
Unlike most germs that are killed within minutes by disinfectants like chlorine or bromine, crypto can survive in chlorinated water for more than a week.
What can you do?
The CDC stated the best thing we can do to protect ourselves from crypto, is not swallow the water we swim in. The goal is to keep crypto out of the pool in the first place. The way to do that is not to swim or let our kid swim when we’re sick with diarrhea, and for two weeks following the cessation of the sickness.
The CDC also recommended going online and checking inspection scores on the local or state health department’s website before getting into a pool or swimmers doing their own inspection when they arrive.
The last recommendation is referred to as a “mini-inspection”, where you use test strips to check the chlorine level and the pH before getting in. Swimmers or parents of young swimmers, need to take a more active role to make sure we have a fun and healthy and safe time in the water this summer.