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Cryptosporidium

General Information

4/21/2001 -- 

  • Cryptosporidium has always been in the environment.  It can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, animal feces, soil, etc.  Only in recent years have physicians, health professionals and individuals become aware of it as a cause of diarrhea and therefore sought testing.
  • Cryptosporidium is brought to a pool by an infected person(s).  It is not due to unsanitary cleaning or faulty maintenance of the pool facility.
  • Cryptosporidium occurs when fecal matter of an infected person or animal is transferred to someone who ingests it.  Cryptosporidium can be transmitted through many methods.  Among the most common: Incomplete handwashing, food preparation, changing a diaper and swallowing water.
  • The Cryptosporidium parasite is typically immune to normal levels of pool chlorination.  Hyperchlorination of water at a level unfit for swimming must occur to kill the parasite.   Remains of the dead parasite may still cause a positive test (depending on the the test) but does not indicate the pool is unsafe for swimming.
  • Cryptosporidium is a parasite, not a virus or bacteria.  There is no antibiotic treatment for it.   It must "run its course".  Dehydration is the primary health risk.  It can be very dangerous for individuals with weakened immune systems and very young children.
  • Cryptosporidium is a class "A"(3) disease (a disease of significant public concern).  Physicians are required to report tests to the local health department.  The health department is not permitted to release the names of positive individuals.  The pool will never be told who tests positive.  It is up to individuals to "do the right thing" and stay out of the pool water if they test positive.
  • The state department of health tells us that 11.2% of the general population will have diarrhea at any given time.  There are many, many causes of diarrhea.  Cryptosporidium can only be detected through a test administered by your physician or the health department.
  • The CDC reports that this parasite can stay in a person's system and be shed for up to 2 months and can live outside the host body of surfaces for up to 6 months.  Contamination of recreational water is possible long after symptoms are no longer present.
  • The CDC tells us once an outbreak occurs in an area, the media attention and heightened awareness causes reports in that area to increase in the future.  People are then aware of the symptoms, area physicians are aware of the stool screen necessary to test for Cryptosporidium; and as a result, cases that previously had occurred without notice are now reported.
  • CDC expects we will see reported cases again.

 

 

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Last modified: May 02, 2001