You May Want to Rethink Your Next Trip to the Pool

People with an aversion to swimming pools like to cite the smorgasbord of germ sources in the water. There’s pee. There’s vomit. There’s poo. There are also open, bloody sores, dirty Band-Aids, and saggy, dirty diapers.

And the occasional dead creature. You know you’ve seen most of these if you’ve ever gone to a group swimming hole or water park. Enticing, huh? Well, now folks can add living creatures to that list. The CDC has been tracking cryptosporidium – a.k.a Crypto – and its rise to infamy in the United States.

Caused by a parasite, Crypto is an infection that wreaks havoc on the gastrointestinal system. It causes diarrhea when a person swallows water that has been contaminated with infected feces. In 2016, the number of reported outbreaks was 32, double the reported amount in 2014. In Ohio, 1,940 people got sick with crypto in 2016! That’s just ONE outbreak.

The parasite is spread through a sick person’s infected diarrhea or other fecal matter. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, and people can remain ill for up to three weeks. Ingesting a tiny amount of tainted water can bring a healthy person down.

Image of Crypto parasite.Wikimedia Commons

If those symptoms aren’t enough to make you think twice about water fun, then know this: Crypto can withstand the power of chlorine. It’s able to survive for up to ten days in water that’s been given the standard treatment. Hard. To. Kill.   The CDC recommends closing recreational swimming areas down that have been infected, and treating the water with high levels of chlorine to kill it. Additionally, the organization laid out guidelines for protecting you and your family from Crypto:

  • Don’t swallow the water.
  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhea, and don’t let kids who have diarrhea swim.
  • To take the above a step further, if you have Crypto-related diarrhea, refrain from swimming for at least two weeks after the diarrhea has stopped.
  • Rinse off your body before getting in the water.
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers (often) in the designated area.

Got that? It’s pretty straightforward advice: Don’t spread the nasty by being nasty! Children and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infection, so be mindful of yourself and your surroundings.

This is not the only report the CDC releases to gross us out about community water centers. 2015’s ran down that the intoxicating aroma we smell at the pool is not from the chlorine alone. It’s a perfect, harmonious chemical reaction of chlorine + urine + sweat + dirt + poo from human bodies. That’s what actually causes your red eyes after a day at the pool.

It’s better to be informed than to be uninformed and exposed. So, what have we learned? Do not get into the pool if you are sick or are recovering from an illness like Crypto. Please, consider your fellow pool-goer. Rinse yourself or your kiddos off before entering the water.

And the most important: Do not swallow the water which may contain hard-to-annihilate parasitic critters. Or, you could skip pool water altogether.

Have you ever caught an infection from a communal pool or water park? Are you pro-pool or pool-averse?