Crypto: Parasite in pools making people sick, CDC wants

A municipal swimming pool is seen in a file

A municipal swimming pool is seen in a file

Health officials with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention are warning Americans to take precautions after a report in the rise of 'crypto, ' a fecal parasite that can be transmitted via swimming pools, is on the rise.

Outbreaks of Cryptosporidium, Crypto, in the United States has increased on average by 13% each year from 2009-2017, the CDC announced in a report released on Thursday.

According to the CDC, infection begins when fecal matter enters the pool, either when someone with diarrhea has an accident in the pool or another source. This is why Crypto is the leading cause of USA outbreaks linked to swimming.

Young children are particularly susceptible to spreading the disease and experiencing severe symptoms, said registered nurse Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program.

The CDC said that over the past decade, there have been more than 400 reported outbreaks in the United States, leading to almost 7,500 people becoming sick. "People can get sick after they swallow the parasite in contaminated water or food or after contact with infected people or animals", according to the CDC.

The main trouble is that crypto is extremely tolerant of chlorine and can happily stay afloat in well-treated pools for more than seven days.

Crypto can easily cause outbreaks because it only takes a few germs to make someone sick and there can be millions of Crypto germs in poop, the CDC reports.

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The parasite known as cryptosporidium, or "crypto" for short, causes cryptosporidioisis and can leave otherwise healthy adults sprinting for the bathroom with "profuse, watery diarrhea" for as long as three weeks.

And if you know anyone who has had diarrhea recently, don't let them in the pool.

She said people with diarrhea should not go in the pool, and those in the pool should avoid swallowing water.

If cryptosporidiosis is diagnosed, do not swim for at least two weeks after diarrhea stops.

Youngsters sick with diarrhea should not be placed in child care, according to the CDC, and following a cryptosporidiosis outbreak, child care workers should clean surfaces with hydrogen peroxide, as chlorine bleach is an ineffective means of killing the parasite. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not work effectively on Crypto.

Twenty-two cases were foodborne, most involving unpasteurized milk or apple cider.

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