The Maricopa County Department of Public Health recently issued a press release alerting the community of a parasitic illness called Cryptosporidiosis, or Crypto, that was linked to recreational water facilities in the county.
Since June 1, 2016, 131 confirmed and probable cases of Crypto have been reported statewide, from multiple counties. Historically, an average of 11.6 cases was reported during this same time period (June 1 through August 8, 2015). Public and environmental health conduct outreach to pools where sick people report swimming so they can be treated with extra chlorine to eliminate the parasite from the water.
When someone who is sick with Crypto uses a pool or recreational water, they may introduce Crypto into the pool through their infected feces. These germs enter the body of a swimmer when contaminated water is swallowed. Crypto is the most common cause of recreational water illness in the United States. Even properly maintained pools, hot tubs, splash pads, and water parks can spread Crypto because the parasite is resistant to chlorine, sometimes taking up to 10 days to be killed.
An infection with Crypto causes diarrhea, abdominal cramping, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and nausea. These symptoms may come and go, and the illness can last two to three weeks. Most infections go away without treatment, but individuals with weakened immune systems should seek medical attention because they are at risk for more severe illness with Crypto.
If you or someone in your household is experiencing the symptoms of Crypto, it is important to avoid entering any shared bodies of water, including bath tubs, until two weeks after diarrhea has stopped. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Crypto is not killed by hand sanitizers. Avoid preparing food for others and stay home from work, school, or child care until diarrhea free for 24 hours.
To prevent catching Crypto while swimming, follow these easy steps for healthy swimming:
- Keep all recreational water out of your mouth
- Never swim when sick with diarrhea
- Wash your body before entering the pool
- Keep pee and poop out of the pool