Being pool professionals, as much as we are in a fun, recreational, water-based trade, we are more importantly in the profession of keeping our clients healthy. We create vessels that filter and treat water borne illnesses for the safety of our clients and their families. Cryptosporidium is the leading cause of waterborne illness in the United States. From 2011 to 2012, 17,000 cases were reported. So here is a crash course on what you need to know about this organism that has been known to survive up to 10 days in a chlorinated environment.
Crypto is a microscopic worm-looking parasite that is surrounded by its own chlorine resistant protective shell. It is commonly a fecal transmitted disease and generally affects a person’s small intestine area. It is not spread by blood.
The good news is some people do not get any symptoms. The bad news is those who do can suffer from one to four weeks. Stool samples will be taken by a physician to confirm Crypto contamination. Many healthy people can recover without treatment. The important thing to remember is effective management and treatment of diarrhea is essential to prevent life-threatening effects. To those with weakened immune systems (young, elderly, immune disorders, etc.), this parasite can be especially life-threatening.
What does one need to look for? The symptoms usually begin in 2-10 days with 7 days being the average. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, stoamch pain/cramps/ fever, vomiting, nausea, weight loss, and dehydration.
To prevent the spread of Crypto and other illnesses linked to swimming, the CDC recommends people not swim if they have diarrhea and to stay out of the pool for two weeks after their diarrhea stops if they were diagnosed with Crypto. People should also shower before swimming, take their children on frequent bathroom breaks when swimming, change diapers in the bathroom rather than by the pool and avoid swallowing pool water.
All that being said, we need to do our best with the systems we design, build, and maintain for the health of our clients. This may include superior circulation and hydraulic design, advanced water filtration, pH and ORP systems, and the combination of UV and Ozone systems together which effectively kill Crypto and other pathogens. The CDC recommends that swimming water be treated with ultraviolet light or ozone to inactivate Crypto at pools where people may have contracted the disease.