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‘Crypto’ Outbreaks in Swimming Pools on the Rise

Cryptosporidium is a parasitic infection commonly associated with the summer season, as people gather at swimming pools and water parks. There were twice as many crpto outbreaks in 2016 than in 2014, and according to CBS News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning people to take precautions against the disease this year. “Crypto” occurs when people swallow something — such as swimming pool water — that has come in contact with an infected person. Unfortunately, chlorine doesn’t easily kill crypto.

Almost everyone loves a dip in a pool, including me, and an occasional trip to a well-maintained public pool likely poses a low risk for most people (although your risks may be increased in indoor settings, including indoor waterparks).

According to CDC testing, close to 80 percent of public pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds had at least one safety or hygiene violation. From a health stand point, that means virtually anything could be lurking in the water, including crypto and E. coli, so if you’re planning to swim at public pools, it’s always best to know how to protect yourself — and others — before you get there.

First, be sure to shower before you leave the locker room. This helps wash off any contaminants that you might be carrying into the pool. Next, look before you leap. If the water is cloudy or if you can’t see the drain at the bottom, don’t go in.

Then, once you’re in there, remember there’s a reason beyond simple hygiene as to why you should never pee in a pool. Studies show that uric acid from human urine mixed with chlorine creates cyanogen chloride and trichloramine, two chemical components known to adversely affect your nervous system and lungs, so save yourself and others from possible illness by urinating in the bathroom, not the pool.

Finally, with fecal contamination, it simply makes sense that if you are sick, or you have a child who has been sick, particularly with diarrhea, that it’s better to wait until you’re well to go to the pool. And when you leave the pool, be sure to shower again.

If you have a pool in your backyard, you can also find a way to keep your pool clean from bacteria, algae, and other organisms without the use of dangerous chemicals.

One of the best solutions is to not chlorinate your pool and just use a maintenance "shock" treatment every five or six days, which will kill the algae buildup. The shock treatment volatilizes in about 24 to 48 hours and gives you a several-day window in which you can safely use your pool.
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