With temperatures in the high 80s and 90s, lots of families are cooling down with a swim in the pool. It’s pretty much become a summer tradition over the decades and can be a great way to have fun, exercise and beat the heat.
However, there is a parasite outbreak that parents should know about before allowing their children to swim in public, private or even their own pool.
The parasite is Cryptosporidium and it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps. You can become infected with cryptosporidium by touching anything that has come in contact with contaminated feces.
The parasite is encased in a tough shell and is not easily removed by typical pool treatments like chlorine or bromine. It can survive for several days after a pool treatment, whereas e-coli is typically eliminated within minutes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a warning about the dangers of Cryptosporidium in pools and hot tubs.
CDC's Healthy Swimming Program chief Michele Hlavsa said that the outbreaks commonly affect children.
"With these outbreaks, we see they disproportionately affect young children," Hlavasa said, "They're the ones who can go to a pool and young children tend to carry lots of germs."
The parasite can be cleared from the body in about two to three weeks, Hlavasa said, but in a person with a weakened immune system the condition may become chronic or even fatal.
Pool owners can help reduce the risk to their family and guests by insisting people shower before diving into the water, the CDC stated. This practice could assist in preventing the microorganism from contaminating hot tubs or pools. It is also a good idea for anyone experiencing diarrhea to stay out of pools, the national public health agency recommended. Parents of young children are advised to change diapers well away from pools, in order to prevent contamination of the water by human waste.
For families visiting public pools, the CDC recommends that parents look to see their pool's most recent inspection was posted through their local health department or even look into buying their own chlorine tests that can be used to test if the water is properly treated.
The CDC also provides several sets of tips to help prevent water-borne illnesses:
Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and germs out of the water!
• Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
• Shower before you get in the water.
• Don't pee or poop in the water.
• Don't swallow the water.
Every hour—everyone out!
• Take kids on bathroom breaks.
• Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool.
• Reapply sunscreen.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
• Pools: Proper free chlorine level (1–3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) levels maximize germ-killing power.
• Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level (chlorine [2–4 parts per million or ppm] or bromine [4–6 ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) maximize germ-killing power.
• Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips.
Enjoying the benefits of swimming is something that families everywhere will be taking advantage of this summer. Remember, we share the water—and the germs in it—with everyone. Take these few steps ahead of time to help make sure summer pool fun doesn’t turn into a summer illness.
Gillian Mohney, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/cdc-warns-pool-parasite-summer/story?id=32060444