Recreational Water Illnesses and Cryptosporidiosis 6/2010
What are Recreational Water Illnesses?
Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) are are illnesses you can catch while in swimming pools, interactive splash parks, water parks, rivers, and lakes. These illnesses are caused by germs such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, E. coli 0157:H7, and Norovirus. The most common ailment caused by these germs is diarrhea. These germs are spread by contamination of water by infected fecal matter of an ill person which is then ingested by someone else.
What is Cryptosporidiosis (Crypto)?
Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a microscopic parasite called Cryptosporidium. Infection occurs by swallowing contaminated fecal matter in water or on food. Crypto causes diarrhea that can last 5 to 10 days. A person with Crypto can remain contagious for several more weeks after diarrhea ends. Crypto is easily spread from person to person and can cause severe illness in a person with a weak immune system. There were over 500 cases of Crypto reported in Idaho in 2007.
Crypto is such a problem in recreational waters because it is invisible to the naked eye, you can't taste it, and you can't smell it. Crypto is very hardy. It can survive for months in a moist environment. Crypto is also highly resistant to chlorination. Traditional water filtering methods are ineffective when treating contaminated water. UV and ozone filtering are the best water filtering methods for treating contaminated water.
The best way to prevent Cryptosporidiosis contamination is by using good hygiene practices. Always shower before entering any recreational water body and always wash after leaving the water body. Do not swallow water from recreational areas, if possible, avoid getting the water in your mouth at all. If you have diarrhea, stay out of the water. If your child has diarrhea, keep them out of the water. Do not change diapers in or near the water. And be aware, swimming diapers are not waterproof. Fecal matter easily escapes from swimming diapers.
If you suspect you have become ill from a recreational body of water, dial 2-1-1 to be connected to your local Environmental Health Office.
Get more information about Recreational Water Illnesses and Cryptosporidiosis
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.healthyswimming.org
National Swimming Pool Foundation www.nspf.com
Association of Pool and Spa Professionals www.apsp.org
Your local Environmental Health Office Dial 2-1-1 to get the contact information for your local Environmental Health Office