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'Crypto' parasite outbreaks on the rise at pools, waterparks in Alabama, US

19 May 2017

The CDC has warned about crypto outbreaks in the United States. It spreads when people come in contact with the feces of an infected person.

"Normal chlorine disinfection of swimming pool water does a great job in destroying most germs, but Crypto presents a special challenge", said Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality and Health Council.

Hlavsa said crypto is resistant to chlorine. "Swallowing 10 or fewer of these oocysts can make you sick". The only way to ensure the health of the water once its been infected is to close the pool and treat it with extremely high levels of chlorine that are risky for humans to swim in.

She said when a person swallows contaminated water, they could have diarrhea that lasts up to three weeks, and since it's mostly young people who swallow pool water, parents need to teach their children about water safety.

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Cryptosporidium, or crypto, is a parasite that has been linked to pools and water parks.

"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, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program, according to the statement.

"This isn't about not swimming", Hlavsa said.

Preliminary data indicate that outbreaks of Cryptosporidium are increasingly being reported to CDC.

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"Young swimmers aged under 5 years are more likely to contaminate the water because they are more likely to have inadequate toileting and hygiene skills; therefore, prevention efforts should focus on their parents", the CDC team wrote in their report.

The findings were published May 19 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

In Ohio, the average number of cases was just under 400 for many years but spiked to 1,940 cases in 2016, the CDC team said. In Arizona, 36 out of 51 Little League players and their families got sick at one Phoenix-area pool, and the whole county reported 352 confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis.

"It's so hard to kill crypto, if someone has a diarrheal incident in the water, they can make a whole community sick potentially". Examining the results combined with information on what patients were doing before they became sick will help CDC and its public health partners develop more effective strategies to stop the spread of Crypto.

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Take kids on bathroom breaks often, and check diapers in a diaper-changing area and not right next to the pool.

'Crypto' parasite outbreaks on the rise at pools, waterparks in Alabama, US