Crypto Waterborne Illness

Crypto Waterborne Illness


This time of year we start to hear a lot of mention of waterborne illnesses such as Crypto. So
what is Crypto, why do we hear about it now, and how can it be prevented?

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease Cryptosporidiosis,
more commonly known as “Crypto”. This parasite can be spread many different ways however, it is
most commonly spread through water (drinking water and recreational water). Cryptosporidium is the leading cause of waterborne illness in the US.

According to the CDC report released June 2019, outbreaks of Crypto have increased about 13%
each year from 2009 to 2017. In the US, more than half of all Crypto-related illnesses are associated with
swimming pools and other water recreation areas.

To prevent spreading and contracting Cryptosporidium:
 Do not swim or let kids swim if sick with diarrhea
o If Crypto is diagnosed, wait two weeks after diarrhea has stopped before
swimming again
 Avoid swallowing the water
 Take young children on frequent bathroom breaks or check their diaper every hour
o Change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area as opposed to water-side
to keep germs and fecal matter out of the water

Since the Cryptosporidium parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive for days in the
chlorinated waters of pools and water playgrounds. With these being go-to places during the hot
summer months, infections are most common in July and August. Also, infections are more common in
the later summer months due to the buildup of cyanuric acid levels in pools to levels that prevent
chlorine from adequately sanitizing the water.

While proper chlorination and water chemistry is critical in maintaining a safe and healthy pool,
Crypto is best prevented with the use of an additional alternative sanitizer. Alternative sanitizers, like an
ultraviolet system, work by the use of UV rays that penetrate harmful pathogens in the water and
destroy illness-causing microorganisms by attacking their DNA, eliminating their ability to replicate.
Other alternative sanitizers, such as an ozone generator, work by releasing O3 into the water. This is an
extremely unstable state for oxygen, which is what makes it such a powerful sanitizer.

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