With the summer upon us, it’s important to know how to prevent recreational
water illnesses while you enjoy swimming and water sports. North Texas has experienced increased numbers of illnesses in the last 20 years due to outbreaks associated with swimming pools, lakes, and rivers.

One disease that can spoil your summer fun is Cryptosporidiosis– a diarrheal disease that is caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium. Its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea that can last up to two weeks, as well as dehydration in children and pregnant women.

This nasty bug is found in the feces of infected people and animals and can contaminate food, water, soil, and other surfaces.

Each year thousands of individuals are sickened by cryptosporidium. Just two years ago, 476 people were affected in Tarrant County. Luckily, you can prevent the spread of Cryptosporidium by practicing these healthy swimming behaviors:
1) Wash your hands.
2) If you are sick with diarrhea, do not swim for two weeks.
3) Avoid getting water in your mouth while you are in lakes and pools.
4) Before and after swimming, take a shower using soap and water.
5) Check diapers frequently. Use changing stations in bathrooms rather than changing poolside.
6) Clean surfaces thoroughly after caring for someone sick with diarrhea.
7) Hyper-chlorinate your pools and spas. Cryptosporidium is resistant to low levels of chlorine.
NOTE: Cryptosporidium is not killed by alcohol gels and hand sanitizers. You must use soap and water to prevent Cryptosporidiosis.

Article written by Kendall Villaman, Laboratory Medical Technologist at North Hills Hospital