CDC says diarrhea-inducing parasite on the rise in US pools

Joy Montgomery
May 20, 2017

According to the data, at least 32 outbreaks of the parasitic infection linked to swimming pools and water playgrounds were reported past year, compared with just 16 in 2014.

The CDC received reports of nearly 32 outbreaks of the infection associated with swimming pools or water playgrounds in the United States in the year 2016, in comparison to the reports of outbreak reported two years earlier, which stood at 16 cases.

The infection spreads when swimmers accidentally swallow pool water tainted with diarrhea or feces of a sick person. As well as diarrhea, symptoms of cryptosporidiosis may include stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea and vomiting.

In Fresno County, there were 10 cases in 2016; 13 in 2015 and seven cases in 2014, according to the Fresno County Department of Public Health. In a May warning from 2016, the CDC reported that almost 80 percent of public pool inspections uncovered at least one health and safety violation.

Don't swallow the water in which you swim.

"Also, take kids on bathroom breaks every hour, and check diapers in a diaper-changing area and not right next to the pool", Hlavsa said. States are not required to report patient numbers, so the CDC does not collect totals. As the CDC pointed out in another pool warning from May of 2013, 58 percent of public pools tested positive for fecal bacteria.

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While standard levels of chlorine kill most germs within a few minutes, Crypto can be extremely hard to kill.

Total cases reported to CDC have increased from about 1 in 100,000 in the early 1990s to about four in 100,000 in recent years, she said.

Don't swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.

Not to be a party-pooper, but you should know there could be something nasty in your neighborhood pool. Pool operators and staff must be trained in pool chemical safety as well as appropriate operation and maintenance of equipment.

Alabama's outbreak past year was tied to an aquatic facility that was in compliance with local standards, which the authors said shows how vulnerable facilities can be, even when properly operated. What makes it different is that in its cyst form, crypto can survive the harsh environment of a regularly chlorinated pool for days.

Managers of pools and water parks need to make sure employees are trained, Li added.

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