The CDC issued a report on the bacteria Cryptosporidium.

Share on Pinterest
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pool this summer. Getty Images

With the pool-loving parasite Cryptosporidium — aka crypto — on the rise, you may be wondering if you should skip the pool this Fourth of July.

After all, if you happen to swallow a bit of pool water that’s contaminated with crypto, you could have a bout of watery diarrhea for up to three weeks.

The good news is that you shouldn’t have to call off your pool party.

However, you may want to take special precautions before you cannonball into the deep end. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which published a report last week about the parasite.

Between 2009 and 2017, researchers identified 444 outbreaks resulting in 7,465 cases of cryptosporidiosis — the illness that’s triggered by the parasite.

The number of cryptosporidiosis outbreaks grew by about 13 percent each year, according to the report.

Thirty-five percent of the outbreaks were linked to pools and water playgrounds.

The rest were caused by contact with infected cattle, exposure to infected children in childcare settings, and consuming contaminated foods like unpasteurized milk or apple cider.

The vast majority of cases occurred during the peak summer months of July and August.

“The number of treated recreational water–associated outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium drives the summer seasonal peak in both waterborne cryptosporidiosis outbreaks and cryptosporidiosis outbreaks overall,” the CDC stated in the report.

Crypto spreads though infected fecal matter from people and animals.

If a swimmer is infected and excretes a bit into a pool, another person could accidentally gulp down some pool water and end up with a case of cryptosporidiosis.

It doesn’t take much for an infected person to cause a full-blown outbreak. The parasite can be protected in contained shells or cysts that spread from person to person.

“A person who is infected can release cysts at much higher levels than the amount required to cause an infection. This means that just a few cysts of the tens of thousands released or excreted by a single person can be enough to generate an infection in any person,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician with Lenox Hill Hospital, told Healthline.

You’d think that chlorine would be able to kill the parasite, but that’s not the case.

Crypto can actually survive in treated pool water for several days.

It can even survive on surfaces that have been disinfected with chlorine bleach.

“The cyst is not impacted by chlorine; the chemical just doesn’t have a negative effect on it,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.

Because of this, it’s difficult to remove crypto from a pool once it’s already there.

Cryptosporidiosis causes intense, watery diarrhea for up to three weeks.

Some people may also experience abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, low grade fever, and loss of appetite.

Healthy adults should recover on their own within about one or two weeks.

Children tend to be most at risk, as they’re the ones typically gulping down splashes of pool water.

“In general, young children, as well as those with a weaker immune system may experience a rockier course,” said Glatter.

Children, along with pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals, should drink a lot of fluid if they get sick as they’re more likely to become dehydrated.

A doctor can treat them with oral or IV fluids to help replace lost electrolytes. They may also prescribe medications to reduce the duration of the diarrhea, Glatter added.

First and foremost, don’t swim if you have diarrhea. Even if you had diarrhea anytime in the past two weeks, it’s best to avoid going in a pool for now.

Try not to swallow water from pools or untreated bodies of water, like lakes, rivers, and ponds.

If you have kids, take them to the bathroom frequently and check your infants’ diapers every hour or so.

If you or a loved one has had diarrhea, be sure to wipe and rinse off thoroughly — and always, always wash your hands.

“Soap may be able to disrupt the structure of the parasite and hand washing also serves to mechanically remove the parasite from one’s hands,” Adalja advised.

Lastly, before heading to your local swimming hole, do a quick search online for the pool’s health grade.

If you can’t find that info, you can always use your own test kits to measure the pool’s chlorine and pH levels.

Health officials are warning Americans of a pool-loving parasite called Cryptosporidium — aka crypto — that’s been on the rise since 2009.

Swallowing contaminated pool water can give you a bout of diarrhea lasting up to three weeks. While you don’t have to avoid the pool altogether, you’ll want to take some special precautions before going for a swim this summer.