As parents, we all know the risks associated with swimming pools. We spend our summers lathering sunscreen and hearing horrifying stories of children who accidentally drown. We blow up the floaties, buy too many pairs of goggles, and do everything in our power to keep the kids safe in, and around the water.
But a new scare is making headlines this week as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues a warning about a fecal parasite found in swimming pools, which could threaten your family’s health.
Known as cryptosporidium or “crypto,” the microscopic parasite is commonly found in swimming pools — where it can reportedly survive in the water for days.
According to a study released by the CDC last week, researchers found more than 7,465 cases of “cryptosporidiosis” from 2009-2017, 35 percent of them from pools.
The parasite is spread primarily through watery diarrhea making its way into the pool—whether that’s through an infant with a swim diaper or a grown adult who had diarrhea just this morning.
According to the CDC, all swimmers should avoid the pool if they are ill with diarrhea. Parents should take kids on regular bathroom breaks, and check their infants’ diapers at least every hour. Those who are diagnosed with crypto should avoid the pool entirely for a minimum of two weeks.
So how do you keep your family safe from this parasite?
Obviously, you can’t control what other people do. But you can play a major role in preventing the spreading of crypto.
Practice good hygiene.
Those little signs telling you to shower before jumping in are not just for show. A survey from the Water Quality and Health last month found that “half of Americans use swimming pools as communal bathtubs.” The survey revealed that 24% of Americans would go in a swimming pool within one hour of having diarrhea, and 48% report they never shower before swimming.
Additionally, 40% of Americans admit they’ve peed in the pool as an adult. Pee also reacts with chlorine, reducing the amount of chlorine available to kill germs.