Swimming-related crypto outbreaks double in the US

By Alice Richard
Tuesday, 23 May, 2017

Cryptosporidium outbreaks are on the rise in the US, with twice as many outbreaks linked to swimming pools and water parks reported in 2016 as in 2014, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At least 32 crypto outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water parks were reported in 2016, compared with just 16 in 2014, according to preliminary data published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In comparison, 20 swimming-related crypto outbreaks were reported in 2011, 16 in 2012 and 13 in 2013. The CDC admits that it is unclear whether this increase is due to an actual increase in outbreak numbers or whether improved surveillance and laboratory methods are leading to better outbreak detection.

Crypto is notoriously difficult to kill, being able to survive up to 10 days even in properly sanitised pool water. Swallowing just a mouthful of water contaminated with Crypto can make otherwise healthy people sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration.

The CDC recommends hyperchlorinating water when responding to a diarrhoeal incident in the water or a crypto outbreak. It has also recommended that swimmers shower before swimming, avoid swallowing pool water, refrain from swimming until two weeks after suffering from diarrhoea, take children on regular bathroom breaks and change nappies away from the pool.

In the US, CryptoNet, a DNA fingerprinting-based tracking system for parasite outbreaks, is used to track and control crypto outbreaks. In 2016, the state of Arizona used CryptoNet to confirm the spread of a particular type of crypto in multiple swimming pools in the Phoenix area.

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