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By Maggie Hall, Public Information

May 16, 2018

As temperatures continue to rise, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH-Pinellas) is asking the public to use caution in swimming pools and water playgrounds because of the risk of Cryptosporidium (also known as “Crypto”).

Cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic infection often linked to swimming pools and water playgrounds, can be spread when people come into contact with hands, objects, or water contaminated with diarrhea, even in chlorinated swimming pools.

It can also be spread in other locations where contaminated feces are spread because of inadequate handwashing or disinfection, such as in child-care centers that care for infants and toddlers who are not toilet-trained.

The parasite can survive in a properly chlorinated pool for up to 10 days, so Crypto can spread throughout households, child care facilities, swimming pools, water parks and water playgrounds. Crypto can cause a person to be sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, a slight fever and, in some cases, dehydration.

In 2014, there were more than 200 reported cases of Crypto in Pinellas County. The department continues to work with its community partners to educate the public on the seriousness of Crypto. As summer vacations increase pool use, Pinellas residents are reminded to take the proper precautions to help prevent the spread of this disease.

Residents and visitors are advised to practice proper hand hygiene and avoid swimming pools, water playgrounds and water parks if ill with diarrhea. Those who are sick with a diarrheal illness should wait at least two weeks after they have recovered before visiting a public area where they will be exposed to water.

Parents and caregivers should also follow these steps to avoid pool contamination:

  • Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at the poolside as germs can spread to surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness.
  • Shower before entering the water.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after changing a child’s diaper.

Those concerned about their symptoms should contact their health care provider.

To learn more about Cryptosporidium, go to

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