Bacteria in Pools Is Making People Sick

Warn homeowners that more reports are surfacing of a microscopic parasite nesting in community and residential pools and hot tubs. The parasite, known as Cryptosporidium or “Crypto,” can make people sick, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the problem is rising to epidemic levels nationwide.

Read more: Clarifying Home Pool Choices

Traces of fecal matter from humans and pets found in pools and hot tubs are leading to the increase in Crypto cases, the CDC says, and chlorine won’t necessarily kill the parasite. Swallowing infected pool water can make people sick with diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting for up to three weeks. Crypto is the “most common cause of diarrheal illness linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds,” the CDC notes, reporting that outbreaks doubled from 2014 to 2016 and have been causing hundreds to fall ill.

“People may have been getting sick before and thinking it was something else,” says Jay Labelle, owner of the Cover Guys, a hot tub supply company in Niagara Falls, N.Y.  “Now there is more information readily available through the web and online resources, so this is likely leading to higher numbers of confirmed reports.”

Community pools may have the greatest likelihood of becoming contaminated, but that doesn’t mean residential swimming pools are immune to Crypto.® suggests homeowners protect themselves by requiring people to rinse off before getting in their pool. Also, take children to the bathroom and make sure they thoroughly clean themselves before getting in the pool.

There’s no simple way to check for Crypto in a pool because the bacteria does not evenly spread through the water, Labelle says. For homeowners who suspect that they have Crypto in their pool, the CDC suggests hyperchlorination, which is basically pumping the water with a higher concentration of chlorine.

Source: “The New Threat Hiding in Swimming Pools: Is it in Yours?”® (May 25, 2017) and “Crypto Linked to Swimming Have Doubled Since 2014,” CDC (May 18, 2017)

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