CDC report reveals germ that could affect swimmers

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COLUMBIA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this week revealing a germ is becoming more common in recreational waters.

Cryptosporidium typically causes diarrhea and can be found in some pools. Of the 90 recorded outbreaks, 69 were from contaminated pools that caused 1,300 people to seek treatment.

The CDC names Cryptosporidium as a leading cause for waterborne illness. While most pools can be cleaned by chlorine and antibacterial solutions, this germ can withstand the pool environment for as long as a week.

Health professionals maintain while they and the public are becoming more aware of cases involving Crypto, it is not all that usual. In order to prevent it from becoming a common occurrence, health professionals recommend swimmers follow simple health practices.

Dr. Judy Hunter-Davis is a pediatrician with the medical group, Davita Healthcare Partners and reminds her patients that using soap and water is always a good idea.

"You need to actually bathe with soap and water before getting into the pool and then immediately bathe and shower after you get out of the pool. Especially wash your hands if you can't immediately bathe," said Hunter. "I would avoid certain types of pools like kiddie pools or wading pools where lots of kids congregate that are not toilet trained."

The leading cause of the spread of Cryptosporidium is particles of fecal matter either from an unclean derrière or from children that are not toilet trained. Changing diapers poolside also increases the potential risk. Dr. Hunter said one of the best ways to prevent infection is to avoid swallowing pool water and monitoring pool conditions.

"If you're dealing with a home pool, don't allow someone who's had diarrhea in your pool for at least two weeks after they've not had diarrhea," said Hunter. "That's how long the bacteria stays in your fecal matter after you've gotten over the illness."

While Cryptosporidium is something to be aware of, doctors don't want the public to become fearful of taking a dip.

"When they did a survey of pools, about 12 percent of pools actually weren't safe to swim in. That means 88 percent of pools were safe to swim in. So, you have to keep that in mind," said Hunter.

Health professionals claim as long as people are vigilant and considerate of others, everyone should enjoy some good, clean fun at the pool.

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