EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Many Americans will be spending time by the pool during the holiday weekend, but before you jump in, you should know that federal health officials are warning swimmers about a chlorine tolerant parasite. The parasite is called Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, for short.
PHOTO: Kids swimming in a pool, Photo Date: 12/24/2010
WEAU Health Correspondent Dr. Alicia Arnold sat down with Tyler Mickelson to talk about the issue. Their Q&A can be found below.
Let's start with, who can be impacted the most by this parasite?
Dr. Alicia Arnold, “*No one* wants to be affected by something that could interfere with summer fun, but in particular individuals who have impaired immune systems, for example those undergoing treatment for cancer or organ transplant patients could become seriously ill. The CDC says that they may be at risk for potentially life-threatening malnutrition and wasting.”
What sort of symptoms should we look out for?
Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping are the main symptoms. The diarrhea could last for weeks.”
Is there any sort of treatment for a parasite like this?
Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Most people get better on their own. Supportive treatment like IV fluids could be used if someone is quite ill. Anyone who is immune compromised should seek care right away because of the possibility of severe, potentially life-threatening illness.”
Is there anything we can do to try and avoid it if we’re swimming in pools?
Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Shower before and after swimming, and don’t swim if you have had any diarrhea in the last two weeks. Check your child’s swim diaper frequently. Don’t swallow any water if you can help it. Another important thing to keep in mind is to wash hands after contact with cattle or other animals. Alcohol based hand sanitizer doesn’t kill Cryptosporidium.”
It's been increasing every year since 2009... Do researchers know why this isn't going away, but instead becoming more popular?
Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Some of the rise in reporting may be due to new or better testing for the disease. There were only 444 outbreaks reported between 2009-2017, so while the disease may be underreported and the numbers are on the rise, the overall risk likely isn’t enough to scare most people away from the pool.”