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Pool parasites? One swim can leave you sick for weeks, experts say

July 24, 2018

Kids in a swimming pool Credit: Pixabay.com

A pool is great on a hot summer day -- but did you ever think about what might be swimming with you?

According to Catherine Roberts, a health editor with Consumer Reports, pools can contain E Coli, Giardia, Campylobacter and Norovirus. All those can make swimmers sick, but the most common culprit is Cryptosporidium, or Crypto for short.

Crypto is spread through fecal matter, and even a small amount can contain millions of germs. According to the CDC, regular levels of chlorine won’t kill crypto -- it can survive in a well-maintained pool for up to 10 days, and it’s easy to catch.

Swallowing even a mouthful of water infected with Crypto can lead to weeks of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. To protect yourself and your family, make sure anyone who swims in your pool follows some guidelines.

“Anyone who is experiencing diarrhea or has been sick should not swim,” said Roberts. “Have people take a shower or at least rinse off before they swim.”

It’s also a good idea to make sure kids take frequent bathroom breaks to reduce the risk of accidents. That goes for babies as well.

“Those swim diapers are not foolproof,” said Roberts.

Pool experts say if fecal matter does get into the pool, don’t take any chances. Get everyone out of the water and shut the pool down.

According to Vincent Groppa from Consumer Reports, the only way to effectively kill crypto is to have a professional super-chlorinate the water and then slowly bring it back to normal levels again -- a process that can take at least eight hours.

“It’s like a supergerm, so that’s the only way to take it out of the pool,” said Groppa.

If you or a child gets sick after swimming, a doctor can test for crypto. Anyone with crypto should wait a full two weeks after any stomach issues stop before getting back in a pool! Get more tips on safe swimming from Consumer Reports.

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