Today, let’s talk Crypto… not, not cryptocurrency. This one is a disease that can be spread via water called Cryptosporidiosis. In the past, we’ve discussed the potential for contaminated waters in open waters and public pools. Now the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning to take this risk even more seriously.  This is because a recent CDC report shows a prominence of Cryptosporidiosis, a disease known as “Crypto,” in the United States.

What is Crypto?

Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease that is spread through contact with the stool of an infected person or animal. This microscopic fecal parasite is commonly found in swimming pools. In fact, in the CDC report, researchers found that 35 percent of the more-than-7,465 reported cases of cryptosporidiosis (from 2009-17) were contracted from pools.

Unfortunately, you may not know right away if you are infected. The symptoms usually don’t show up until two-to-10 days after you become infected. Sadly, symptoms can last for up to two weeks once they do show up. If you suspect that you may be infected, here’s what to look out for:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

How Can You Keep From Spreading Cryptosporidiosis?

Everyone should do their part to keep the spread of this disease at bay. By taking some simple steps, you can help to ensure a clean and safe swim for everyone in the pool.

  • Wash your hands often. Be sure to use soap and water, since alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not effective in killing this parasite.
  • Bathe before swimming. We recently covered this in a separate blog post. As it turns out, half of Americans admit to using the pool as a communal bathtub. A survey by Water Quality and Health (WQH) found that 48 percent of these people do not shower before swimming.
  • Don’t swim when you’re sick… or just afterward. The same study by WQH showed that 24 percent of people said that they would jump into the pool within an hour of having diarrhea. According to the CDC, however, if a swimmer is sick with diarrhea, they should not enter the pool at all. In fact, those who are diagnosed with Cryptosporidiosis should avoid the pool for at least two weeks so as to not spread the parasite.

How Do You Avoid Getting Crypto?

Now that we know have to prevent the spread of Cryptosporidiosis, let’s look at how you can avoid getting it in the first place? After all, nothing’s worse than having a fun day at the pool, but then winding up with a bad case of nausea and diarrhea as a result! Take these steps to avoid the risk of getting Cryptosporidiosis:

  • Don’t swallow the water. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If the water is contaminated with fecal parasites, you certainly don’t want to ingest it!
  • Educate yourself. Be aware of the condition of the water you’re about to swim in. This will help you to understand how healthy or safe it is. Look up the health grade of any public pool you plan to visit.
  • Be extra careful if you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system.

What Happens if You Do Get Crypto?

If you are diagnosed with this infection and you are pregnant or have a low immune system, you should consult your doctor. Otherwise, cryptosporidiosis will run its course without treatment and will resolve on its own. In the meantime, it is best to stay hydrated. By this, we mean that you should drink plenty of fluids, and avoid anything that can make you dehydrated, like alcohol and caffeine.