Before you jump in a pool this summer, make sure you’re staying safe. The number of fecal parasite outbreaks is on the rise, according to the CDC.
Cryptosporidium, or crypto, is a parasite spread through feces that can survive for more than a week even in a properly treated pool. The CDC says cases are going up 13 percent every year.
“Chlorine is not as effective as fast as it is on other organisms with cryptosporidium,” said James Congleton with the Alabama Public Health Department.
Crypto is the leading cause of disease outbreaks linked to water in pools and water parks. In eight years it’s made about 7500 people sick and killed one person.
Since crypto can survive even if pool staff are doing everything right, preventing it is mostly up to you. The big one: stay out of the pool if you or your child has diarrhea. Also be careful not to swallow pool water.
Doctors say it’s a good idea to take kids for bathroom breaks regularly and make sure they’re all clean before hopping back in the pool.
“Make sure you go into a swimming pool that has the proper pH and the proper chlorine and bromine level,” Congleton said. “And it has also everything working at the pool like filters and pumps and so forth.”
Pools are the most common places, but according to the CDC crypto has also been traced to childcare centers, cattle farms, and through unpasteurized milk and apple cider.
Experts say it only takes the tiniest amount of infected feces to contaminate a big pool and depending on how the filtration system is set up it could spread to other pools.