Summer is here, which no doubt means trips to the beach and the local swimming pool. With that in mind, and for healthy and safe swimming week starting May 22, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of an increase in a parasitic infection linked to swimming pools.

According to the CDC, at least 32 outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium, or more simply crypto, were reported to the center in 2016, twice the amount reported in 2014. The statistics come from preliminary data published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report.

The crypto parasite spreads when a person swallows something that has come into contact with the feces of a sick person, for example, pool water contaminated with diarrhea. Crypto is the most common cause of outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds because the parasite is not easily killed by chlorine and can survive up to 10 days in properly treated water.


Image via CDC

“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,” the CDC said.

The CDC acknowledged that it wasn’t clear whether the number of outbreaks had increased or whether better laboratory and surveillance methods led to better detection.

When dealing with a diarrheal incident in the water or a crypto outbreak, the CDC recommends closing pools and treating water with high levels of chlorine.

The CDC also offers the following tips to protect yourself and others from germs that cause diarrhea:

  • Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.
    • If diarrhea is caused by Crypto, wait until two weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
  • Don’t swallow the water in which you swim.
  • Rinse off in the shower before getting in the water to help remove any germs on your body that could contaminate the water.
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks often, and check diapers in a diaper-changing area and not right next to the pool.

Image via Pixabay