Summertime means fun in the sun and ample pool time, but parents might want to heed a warning being issued by health officials. It could actually save you and your children’s lives.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released reports of at least 32 outbreaks of cryptosporidium in the United States just since last year. That number has more than doubled since past years, which poses a huge health risk, particularly for kids.
Cryptosporidiosis, also known as crypto, is a parasitic disease caused by protozoan parasites. It affects the distal small intestine and the respiratory tract, resulting in extreme diarrhea that’s sometimes accompanied by a cough.
Crypto also causes nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and dehydration. In immunocompromised individuals, this infection can be fatal.
Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s healthy swimming program, said parents should never allow their children to swim or play in water parks if they have diarrhea. The parasites are spread when people ingest water that has been contaminated by feces from a person infected with crypto.
“To help protect your family and friends from crypto and other diarrhea-causing germs, do not swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea. Protect yourself from getting sick by not swallowing the water in which you swim.”
Furthermore, individuals with diarrhea caused by crypto should not swim for two weeks after symptoms have stopped. Also, everyone should rinse off in the shower before hopping in the pool.
The CDC also advised parents to be sure and take kids on bathroom breaks often when playing at the pool or waterpark and to not check diapers near the pool. The slightest mishap can quickly and easily contaminate water trickling into a pool or water playground.
Surprisingly, crypto is not easily killed by chlorine and can still survive for up to 10 days in pool water that’s been properly treated with chemicals. Just one mouthful of contaminated water can make a healthy person sick for up to three weeks.
During the prime swimming season in Arizona between July and October in 2016, state officials identified 352 people sickened by crypto. In 2016, Ohio officials reported 1,940 who fell ill with crypto. Be sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines for a safe and fun swimming season.