MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – If you plan of jumping in a pool to get out of the heat, federal health officials are warning people to protect themselves from a parasite that can live for days in swimming pools and water playgrounds.
It’s known as crypto and can leave you with severe intestinal problems. Experts say anyone can catch crypto but people who are young, old, and have compromised immune systems are at greatest risk.
“I shock it every week after the rain. I’ll do three or four pounds to keep the water nice and clean,” said Dominic Plado Costante, pool owner.
Plado Costante is meticulous about keeping his pool clean. “If you own the pool you want to make sure everything is good because you’re going in there. A public pool is different.” He does his best to avoid public pools.
The Centers for Disease Control says the number of outbreaks caused by the fecal parasite cryptosporidium, more commonly known as crypto, has risen. During the past decade there have been more than 400 outbreaks.
The bacteria causes nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea that can last for weeks. The most common cause of the outbreaks was swallowing contaminated water from recreational places.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Muhammed Khurshid with St. Francis Hospital says the scary part is the chlorine in a pool doesn’t stop the bacteria from spreading. It can live in chlorine for as long as 7 days.
“It does not work, sometimes chlorine works on other bacteria and parasites, but on this parasite it doesn’t work,” said Dr. Khurshid.
In addition to diarrhea, other symptoms of crypto may include a fever, vomiting, and stomach pain. To prevent outbreaks health officials say don’t swim or let kids swim if they have diarrhea.
“If you know someone has had diarrhea and been in the pool probably best avoiding that situation,” said Khurshid.
Experts say symptoms usually start 2 to 10 days after the infection and can last a week or two.