Crypto Prevention and Health Swimming
Although chlorine and other disinfectants are an effective way to kill germs found in recreational water, they do not work instantly. Despite the use of disinfectants, many people have become sick with recreational water illnesses (RWIs), which are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, hot tubs/spas, lakes, or rivers. RWIs include gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea, caused by germs like Cryptosporidium ("Crypto") and E-Coli 0157:H7.
In the past two decades, there has been a substantial increase in the number of RWI outbreaks associated with swimming. Crypto, which can stay alive for days even in well-maintained pools, has become the leading cause of swimming pool-related outbreaks of diarrheal illness.
Crypto can be spread by:
- Swallowing recreational water contaminated with Crypto. You share the water—and the germs in it—with every person who enters the pool. This means that just one person with diarrhea can easily contaminate the water. Swallowing even a small amount of pool water that has been contaminated with the Crypto germ can make you sick.
Additionally, the mixing of chlorine with pee and sweat uses up the chlorine in the pool, which would otherwise kill germs. We all share the water we swim in, and each of us needs to do our part to help keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy.
To help protect yourself and other swimmers from germs, here are a few easy and effective steps all swimmers can take each time we swim:
Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and dirt out of the water!
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea or if you have had diarrhea within the past 2 weeks.
- Shower before you get in the water using soap.
- 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.