One of the best things about summer is getting to spend time at the pool. Letting the kids splash around and swim provides a few hours of fun. Plus it's a great way to stay cool when the temperatures start to rise. But, there are also downsides to pool time. Mainly in the form of sicknesses that can be spread through them. They can be the home for all kinds of bacterial diseases. And now officials are warning us about a parasite found in swimming pools.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report that warns about the dangers of Cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium, or "Crypto," as it's more commonly called is a fecal parasite. The report highlights the increasing number of Crypto outbreaks. And just what does it do? Well, the parasite is commonly the cause of water related illnesses and diseases. Usually it leads to cryptosporidiosis, which usually includes nausea, vomiting and "watery diarrhea." It can last weeks, which is not ideal, especially in summer.
Thankfully, the illness isn't life threatening. But it is generally unpleasant, and can do more damage to young kids, older folks and the immune compromised. Between 2009 and 2017, there has been a 13 percent increase each year in outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In the past 10 years or so, there have been more than 400 outbreaks that have been reported in the United States. That equals about 7.500 people, with about 200 of them being hospitalized. So far, only one person has died.
But how do you before affected by this parasite? Commonly, from ingesting tainted water. This is especially prevalent in common recreational places, like swimming pools. The parasite has become immune to pool chemicals. Approximately 35 percent of the outbreaks can be linked to pools or playgrounds. Additionally, 13 percent of outbreaks can be traced to childcare settings like a daycare or camp. And about 15 percent of the outbreaks come from contact with infected cattle. So if you're visiting a petting zoo or carnival with cattle at any point this summer, be aware.
Kids are usually the ones spreading Crypto, due to not properly washing their hands. CDC Healthy Swimming Program head, Michele Hlavsa, warns that kids can get seriously ill from Crypto. "They don't know how to use the toilet and wash their hands, or are just learning how," she said in a press release.
Even just a trace of fecal matter on swim suits or hands can contaminate whatever they come in contact with. This includes food and swimming pools. Whoever comes in contact with the infected items will become sick as well. Usually symptoms of Crypto show up within two to ten days of contact. In addition to the previously mentioned symptoms, you can also have fever, stomach pain, and dehydration.
If you or your kids have diarrhea, do not get into a pool until you don't anymore. Also, avoid ingesting pool water. And make sure you're washing your hands with actual soap and water, not hand sanitizer.