Pool-Based Parasite: Cryptosporidium Parasite Causing Swimming Fears This Summer

Pool-based parasite Cryptosporidium is being found in recreational waters, such as backyard swimming pools, hot tubs, and water parks. The microscopic parasite causes gastrointestinal illnesses. Cryptosporidium is reportedly becoming increasingly resistant to disinfectants and antibacterial cleaners.

Crypto has been deemed the “leading cause” of waterborne illness in America. The microscopic parasite can also be found in contaminated food, according to Newsweek. Although there are 20 known species of Cryptosporidium, only a “handful” are actually harmful to human beings.

Over the course of the past 20 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of recreational water illness outbreaks associated with swimming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contends.

“Crypto, which can stay alive for days even in well-maintained pools, has become the leading cause of swimming pool-related outbreaks of diarrhea illness. From 2004 to 2008, reported Crypto cases increased over 200 percent,” the CDC website states.

From 2011 to 2012, 90 Crypto outbreaks and 1,788 cases of illness from recreational water use reportedly occurred. A total of 77 percent of the illnesses occurred in water that was treated with chlorine or bromine. A total of 23 percent of the outbreaks involved untreated water, such as lakes and oceans, according to the CDC.

The CDC wrote that Crypto is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time, and makes it tolerant to chlorine disinfection. The parasite can also be found in drinking water as well as recreational water.

Most germs do not tolerate chlorine like Crypto can. Keeping swimming pools and water parks monitored to make sure the recommended levels of chlorine are maintained is an important and routine step to keeping the water clean and healthy. According to a 2010 study cited by the CDC, one in eight public pools failed inspections and were immediately closed due to “serious code violations,” which often included improper chlorine levels.

“People are realizing it’s not necessarily only about where they ate or what they ate,” epidemiologist Michele Hlavsa stated during an interview with LiveScience.“It could be about where they went swimming.”

To prevent infection by the pool-based parasite and other swimming health issues, the CDC recommends that everyone shower before getting into a pool and that children are removed from the water for frequent bathroom breaks. The health organization also urges anyone who has suffered from a bout with diarrhea to stay out of pools for at least two weeks if they have been previously diagnosed with Crypto.

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