CDC warns about a rise in swimming pool-linked parasitic infections

The weather is getting warmer and loads of people are just waiting for a chance to take a refreshing dip in the pool. However, an outbreak of a nasty parasite may have many would-be swimming pool visitors reconsidering their summer plans.

The CDC states that there were twice as many reports of Cryptosporidium outbreaks in 2016 as compared with 2014. At least 32 occurrences were linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds.

splash pad
Flickr | CodyR

Cryptosporidium, commonly known as “Crypto,” is a microscopic parasite that can cause cryptosporidiosis. Swallowing a single mouthful of contaminated water can cause watery diarrhea and vomiting, stomach cramps and pain, fever, dehydration and weight loss. These symptoms tend to last one to two weeks, although they can come and go for a month.

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Children and pregnant women are more susceptible to severe dehydration from cryptosporidiosis. This can be life threatening, especially for babies. In addition, people with weakened immune systems who contract the ailment can become seriously, chronically or even fatally ill.

Is It Safe to Get in the Water?

Before you swear off swimming and splashing altogether, it is important to note that the threat may not be as significant as it seems.

The CDC emphasizes that it is unclear whether the upsurge in reports is because of more actual outbreaks or simply improvements in surveillance and detection because of better laboratory testing methods.

You can help protect your family from contamination and stop further Crypto outbreaks by taking a few preventive measures:

1. Practice Proper Hygiene

Teach children to wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before eating and after playing outdoors.

washing hands photo
Flickr | aka Kath

2. Stay Home if You Are Sick

Keep anyone with diarrhea out of the pool. Someone diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis should not go swimming for at least two weeks after the last bout of diarrhea.

Flickr | Christian Bucad

3. Don’t Drink the Water

Avoid swallowing water from pools, water playgrounds and other potentially contaminated sources.

drinking from hose photo
Flickr | anathea

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4. Stop for Potty Breaks

Check babies’ diapers every 30 to 60 minutes and take older children to the bathroom at least once an hour when playing in the water.

park restroom photo
Flickr | quinn.anya