What could be lurking in your pool-Cryptosporidium

We welcome guest blogger Dr. Alissa Packer who informs us about Cryptosporidium.

-Drs. Kardos and Lai

Here in the state of Utah we are starting to see cases of Cryptosporidium crop up. “Crypto” is a nasty bug that hides in water (both drinking and recreational), is resistant to chlorine, and caused a massive diarrhea outbreak in 2007.  Crypto is present throughout the United States and originates in the stool of an infected human or animal. The little germs then hunker down in the closest water, soil, or food, just waiting for their next host. 

If your little one becomes that next host you can look forward to diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, nausea and weight loss. Symptoms occur 2 to 10 days after becoming infected. These symptoms typically last, on and off, for 1 to 2 weeks. Not everyone exposed will develop symptoms–some lucky ones will be just fine.

So, does that mean you need to ditch your summer pass to the pool? Give up your fresh raspberries?  Skip that trip to the lake? Probably not. Find out how your local pool treats for crypto and what their policies are regarding swim diapers. Ultraviolet (UV) treatment is better than chlorine, and requiring swim diapers is probably a good thing. Thoroughly wash all fresh fruits and vegetables. Use common sense with good hand washing. And make sure the lake water is adequately treated before drinking it—or better yet, bring your own drinking water.

If you think your child may have crypto, visit your pediatrician so he or she can test your child’s stool. The test is a little tricky and may require a few different stool samples over several days.  If it turns out to be crypto there is a medication called nitazoxanide that can help. Also try to keep your child tanked up on fluids. A hydrated child is a happy child.

Hopefully we won’t see the same kind of outbreak we did in 2007…but if we do, you’ll be prepared.

Alissa Packer, MD
Dr. Packer is a pediatrician and mom in West Jordan, Utah. She loves kids- both the snotty nosed and the well kind, the outdoors, and good books. The above post was expanded from her original post in her wonderful blog at: southpointpediatrics.blogspot.com .  

©2010 Two Peds in a Pod℠

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1 Comment

  • Reply munro american November 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I make fun of my brother every summer because he will not let his son swim in a public pool – he’s a germaphob. But after reading this it sounds like his concerns are actually valid. I didn’t realize that not everything is killed by chlorine. We will have to be more careful next summer – it sounds like a nasty bug to catch!

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