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How to avoid Crypto at the pool or water park

boy jumping into pool Have you heard of Crypto? No, it’s not the latest creature in a horror movie, but you should take it seriously. Cryptosporidium is a parasite that’s found in swimming pools and water parks — and it’s making Americans sick.

Crypto is a common cause of contamination in pools and water parks because it’s not easily killed by chlorine. In fact, it can survive up to 10 days in properly disinfected water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), swimming-related outbreaks of Crypto have become a significant problem. Hundreds, even thousands of people can be affected by a single outbreak. The CDC estimates that 748,000 cases of the illness occur in the U.S. every year.

In 2016, 32 incidents were reported at U.S. swimming pools or water playgrounds, compared with 16 outbreaks in 2014. It’s unclear whether the number of outbreaks has actually increased or if better inspection and lab testing are finding more cases.

Crypto causes diarrheal illness that spreads when someone swallows water that has been tainted by feces of another person who is sick with diarrhea. Swallowing infected water can make a person sick for up to three weeks with diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting that can lead to dehydration.

Use the following tips to avoid illness and protect other swimmers.

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea
  • Shower before going into the water
  • Don’t pee in the water
  • Take children on bathroom breaks every hour
  • Avoid drinking the water
  • Check diapers every 30 to 60 minutes, and change baby away from the water
  • Don’t sit on water jets

Learn more about CDC’s healthy swimming recommendations to protect yourself and your loved ones from Crypto and other illness-causing germs.