CDC: Parasitic Infection in Pools That Causes Diarrhea Is on the Rise

Know what precautions you can take to prevent the illness from spreading.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
Jul 2019
cryptosporidiosis outbreak in public pools
Photo: iStock

If you and your family will be splish-splashing in a public pool this summer, make sure its staff keeps cleanliness top of mind. There has been a spike in a diarrhea-causing illness linked to swimming pools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. The leading cause for cryptosporidiosis, or crypto for short, is due to swallowing contaminated water in pools or water playgrounds, as well as contact with infected animals or infected people in childcare settings. There have been 444 outbreaks from 2009 to 2017, which has resulted in nearly 7,500 cases in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

The most cases, 35 percent, occurred when people swallowed water in contaminated pools or water parks. Fifteen percent of cases came from contact with infected cattle, and 13 percent were from childcare centers. The crypto parasite causes a watery diarrhea that may be present for up to three weeks. It largely affects children ages 1 to 4, as well as children who aren’t potty trained and spend time in public swimming or water areas.

One of the best ways to prevent the number of crypto cases from increasing is to keep children with diarrhea out of swimming pools or home from daycare. Additionally, people should wash their hands after interacting with animals.

The good news is, most people recover from crypto by drinking enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Those with weakened immune systems, such as babies, may need stronger treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician with any concerns.

Another summertime swimming risk to keep on your radar is chlorine poisoning. A family’s vacation was cut short when their children had to be rushed to the ER after being exposed to dangerous concentrations of chlorine in the air.

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