CDC warns of 'crypto' fecal parasite in pools

Swimming pools are a summer hot spot, but they can also be a breeding ground for germs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing a warning about a rise in cryptosporidium illnesses. The fecal parasite, known as crypto, can be found in pools.

Between 2009 and 2017, there were 444 outbreaks across the U.S., causing more than 7,000 people to fall ill. 

“It doesn’t surprise me, I feel like each year you see different places and across the country where there are outbreaks like this,” said Patty McGrath, the general manager at the Edina Aquatic Center.

While the Edina Aquatic Center has never had crypto, McGrath says she’s now on alert.
Crypto can enter the body if contaminated water is ingested. Diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration are common symptoms. The last reported death tied to crypto happened in 2009.

Unlike most germs that are wiped out by disinfectants, crypto can linger in chlorinated water for a week or more.

“When we look at our disinfection systems, we do test our water three times a day, we look at the water chemistry, we have minimum levels that we will not drop below in terms of our chlorine levels, and all of those things are going to work to keep the pool water nice and clean,” said McGrath.

She says the key to prevention is good hygiene.

“Again, I go back to the personal responsibility,” she said. “If you’ve been sick, maybe now is not the time to swim. We want everyone to come and have a good time and be safe, so that’s what we work hard for.”

It’s not just crypto that people need to be concerned about. The CDC says that between 2000 and 2014, nearly 500 outbreaks were linked to recreational facilities, including pools, hot tubs and playgrounds.