Yesterday, the CDC released information regarding outbreaks of a parasitic infection linked to swimming pools and water playgrounds. Reports to the CDC regarding this parasitic infection were doubled in 2016 in comparison to 2014.
At least 32 outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium (also known as “Crypto”) linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds in the United States were reported in 2016, compared with 16 outbreaks in 2014, according to preliminary data published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The parasite can spread when people swallow something that has come into contact with the feces (poop) of a sick person, such as pool water contaminated with diarrhea.
In comparison, 20 Crypto outbreaks linked to swimming were reported in 2011, 16 in 2012, and 13 in 2013. It is not clear whether the number of outbreaks has increased or whether better surveillance and laboratory methods are leading to better outbreak detection.
Crypto is the most common cause of diarrheal illness and outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds because it is not easily killed by chlorine and can survive up to 10 days in properly treated water. 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.
“To help protect your family and friends from Crypto and other diarrhea-causing germs, do not swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea,” said Michele Hlavsa, R.N., M.P.H., chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “Protect yourself from getting sick by not swallowing the water in which you swim.”