Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes diarrhea, as well as the bacteria that cause Legionnaire’s disease and a second bacteria called Pseudomonas. The CDC says that Cryptosporidium caused 58 percent of outbreaks in which a germ could be identified, and 89 percent of the illnesses. Cryptosporidium can survive for seven or more days and is difficult to kill. The CDC states that it takes a lot of chlorine for a lot of time to kill Cryptosporidium.
Cryptosporidium is spread by a diarrheal incident — yes, you read that right — and it can be hard to see that happen in a pool full of kids. The CDC recommends that parents shouldn’t let kids go into pools if they’ve had diarrhea recently, and babies need even closer watching. If there is a diarrheal incident, the pool operator is supposed to clear the pool and flush it with extremely high levels of chlorine or bromine to kill the parasite. However, that does not always happen. Cryptosporidium infects people when they swallow contaminated pool water.
The CDC states that it is very important for people to shower and to not pee or defecate in pools. Proper showering can not only remove residual fecal matter that could get into a pool, but it takes away the oil, sweat and dirt that react with chlorine and make it less effective. The CDC states that the problem with peeing in a pool and not showering before you go into the pool is that urine and sweat and dirt combine with chlorine in the water... and that reduces the chlorine's effectiveness. The CDC reports that urine, not chlorine, in a pool is what makes people’s eyes sting after swimming.
The CDC notes that people should keep in mind that bacteria can grow into mats called biofilms, which then resist the effects of chlorine and other disinfectants. These slimy biofilms typically have to be scrubbed off.
Be smart this summer, and be safe!
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