What’s Lurking in the Swimming Pool?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are renewing their warnings this year about infections of Cryptosporidum in swimming pools. Last year, there were 32 reported outbreaks of Cryptosporidium linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds. Known in medical jargon as “Crypto,” this parasitic infection is transmitted by contact with an infected individual’s fecal matter, and can result in disruptive gastrointestinal distress, fever, weight loss, cramps, and dehydration. There have also been reported cases of contaminated individuals who did not exhibit any of these symptoms.

What is particularly sinister about this is that it can survive up to ten days in typical pool water, meaning that standard concentrations of chlorine or other sanitizers aren’t enough to disinfect it much less prevent it from spreading. Last year 1,940 people in Ohio contracted this illness, and though there are numerous ways this contagion can infect a person, public water venues have proven to be its most common delivery system. The CDC reports that Crypto is prevalent in all regions of the United States, and that “an infected person can shed 10,000,000 to 100,000,000 Crypto germs in a single bowel movement.”.

Luckily, the CDC has prevention guidelines for aquatics professionals on their website.

Additionally, the CDC also provides a list of water filters capable of removing Crypto, as well as a list of filter labels that may not be sufficient in removing the disease. You can find more details here4. These may already be in place at your district, and include tips like hyper chlorination, mandatory bathroom breaks, routine water quality checks, and crafting an emergency outbreak plan for closing or treating pools if something occurs. If your district has anything like that in place, we would love to hear about it. Let us know by emailing us.

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