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Cryptosporidium: Poop parasite in pools is on the rise

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

cryptosporidium outbreaks

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  • The CDC reports cryptosporidium, triggering diarrhea, fever and fatigue, is the third leading cause of diarrheal illness in the U.S.; of the 444 outbreaks reported between 2009 and 2017, 35% were linked to treated swimming pools
  • Although uncomfortable and distressing, it is not a serious infection in those with a strong immune system, but it may be life-threatening in those who are immunocompromised by inherited diseases, medications or illness
  • Symptoms are caused by the parasite burrowing into the epithelial lining of the intestinal tract, where they reproduce, developing thin-walled spores that reinfect the host, or thick-walled spores that are excreted in the stool in search of a new host
  • Take precautions before entering the swimming pool. Check for safety testing in public pools, consider using your own test strips, take a shower before entering the pool and do not drink pool water

During the summer months many take to the local swimming pools to cool off and enjoy time with family and friends. Families may spend time teaching their youngsters the life-saving skill of swimming or just hours splashing around and playing games in the water. However you spend your time in or near water, you don’t have to leave with more than you arrived with.

Unfortunately, public swimming pools and hot tubs may be hotbeds of unwanted activity. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia warns children may acquire impetigo, pseudomonas dermatitis and athlete’s foot from swimming in pools. The EHA Consulting Group adds exposure to Escherichia coli, cryptosporidium (crypto) and shigella to the group.

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