It’s almost summertime! The traditional activities include hitting the beach and hanging out outdoors, but the latest trend is to go to the neighborhood pool and become infected with a parasitic stomach infection.
This parasitic infection has been on the rise this past year, and there are now a total of about 2,000 reported cases nation-wide.
According to the statistics published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, there have been at least 32 outbreaks of a parasitic infection caused by dirty pool water reported in the United States in 2016. This number has at least doubled since 2014 and continues to increase as the summertime approaches.
This parasite that has infested pools and water parks is known as Cryptosporidium, or Crypto. Because this parasite is not killed by chlorine and can survive for long periods of time in water, even “swallowing just a mouthful of water contaminated with Crypto can make otherwise healthy people sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration,” according to the CDC.
Hlavsa, the CDC’s chief in Healthy Swimming, has stated that, “this is a really tough bug to kill once it gets in the water.”
Not only can it survive in well-treated pools, but it is also extremely difficult and costly for recreational facilities that become infected with Crypto to rid themselves of the contamination. Standard procedure states that once an outbreak is detected, the operators must shut down the facility and treat the water with extremely high levels of chlorine that are not safe for swimmers to be in.
Because pool water becomes contaminated with Crypto when the feces of a sick person infects recreational areas, the CDC has advised:
You or your kid(s) must not swim if sick with diarrhea
Do not swallow the water in which you swim
Rinse off before going to pool to remove any germs
Allow your kids several bathroom breaks while swimming
However, it is important to note that the cause of this increase in Crypto is unclear, because it is not known whether the disease is getting worse from better reporting and documenting of these outbreaks, poorer regulation of pool water, or other reasons.
Despite the uncertainty as to why these parasitic infections are increasing, we must remain cautious and take preventative measures to stop the spread of this sickness.
Source: Nazario K. Parasitic stomach infections from dirty pool water on the rise. Chicagotribune.com.