It's nice to beat the heat in public pools and waterparks, but make sure to keep your mouth closed and use nose plugs when you're in the water or you could be the next cryptosporidium playground.
On May 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed a sharp increase in reported infections from swimming pools in the United States. The parasite, more commonly known as "crypto," can cause watery diarrhea for up to three weeks and could be life-threatening to patients with weak immune system.
Rise In Crypto Outbreaks And Cases
According to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), crypto infections plotted about 324 to 571 cases annually from 2012 to 2015 but saw a rise to 1,940 cases in 2016. There were also 32 reported crypto outbreaks linked to pools and water parks in 2016 alone, which is alarmingly high when compared to the 16 confirmed outbreaks in 2014.
The CDC is unsure whether the sharp increase in reported cases is the result of better testing and detection methods; however, the agency wants everyone to be more careful in order to avoid the risk of parasite infection.
The Cryptosporidium Parasite
There are various ways in which parasites infect different species but the crypto — a common cause of diarrhea — can be contacted when a person ingests anything that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person.
Unfortunately, you don't have to be a part of the human centipede to get infected because simply swimming in the same pool as an infected individual increases the risk of contracting the parasite. This is because any small bowel accident from an infected patient would already compromise the pool and it is very difficult to get rid of.
The crypto can survive up to 10 days in the chlorinated pool water as it waits for an unwilling victim to accidentally swallow or get poo-water up in their noses. After that, it will be two to three weeks of suffering from stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting or nausea for the unlucky person.
How To Avoid A Crypto Infection
CDC releases a list of safety precautions for health hazards and the increasing crypto outbreaks are no exception. Here are CDC's tips to prevent crypto from spreading around.
For parents and those who recently had diarrhea
• Do not let kids swim in the pool if they have diarrhea
• If you or your child was diagnosed with Crypto, wait until two weeks after your/their bowel movement normalizes to ensure you/they do not remain crypto carriers
• Have bathroom breaks often (regardless of bowel movement)
• Rinse off before and after getting in the pool to remove germs that could or have contaminated the pool
• Use nose plugs if you can
• Avoid swallowing pool water
Healthy and Safe Swimming Week begins on May 22, so the CDC is encouraging swimmers to be vigilant and help protect themselves and other swimmers from cryptosporidium.