Headed to the pool or water park? Here’s something you need to know: Diarrhea outbreaks linked to a parasite found in pools have sharply increased. Federal health officials say that over the last two years, reports of these illness have doubled.
What’s causing the illnesses?
Swallowed pool water containing parasites called cryptosporidium, or crypto, is believed to be the cause of diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. Crypto can survive in the pool for 10 days, despite normal chemical treatment. (To treat a pool after an outbreak, chlorine is added at levels unsafe for swimmers.)
Crypto is spread through human feces. Poop is already found in at least half of all pools, according to a CDC study. The biggest contaminator? The unwashed behinds of kids under the age of 5. To add to the problem, urine, which is frequently found in pools, can deplete chlorine levels and allow parasites like crypto to thrive.
How can you protect yourself — and others?
- Don’t swim when you have diarrhea!
- Avoid swallowing pool water.
- Get clean before you take a dip.
- Make sure your kids follow these rules — keep them away from the pool when they are sick, make sure they soap up before hitting the water, and make sure they get out to use the bathroom frequently when at the pool.