Recreational Waters and Waterborne Illness

The Center for Disease control and Prevention released a report Thursday stating that instances of waterborne illnesses have been on the rise in recent years in the U.S. These outbreaks are due to increasingly contaminated recreational swimming bodies of water such as hot tubs, pools, and lakes. The waters are contaminated with Cryptosporidum, a miniscule parasite that causes short-lived yet unpleasant stomach illness.

The CDC report states that since the germ was first detected in water in 1988, outbreaks have significantly increased every year. Most concerning, however, is that 77 percent of the outbreaks occur in treated water. Unfortunately for many swimming enthusiasts, this parasite can survive for ten or more days even when the water has been treated with chlorine to eliminate the germs.

The parasite is spread through contact with feces from infected humans and animals. Crypto can also be spread through the ingestion of raw or uncooked food and beverages that contain the parasite. The name of the gastrointestinal illness caused by the parasite is cryptosporidiosis, which is marked by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after infection and can last from as little as four days to as long as two weeks. Some people do not actually develop symptoms but can potentially still transmit the disease to others through close contact.

Anyone who frequently swims in recreational water is at risk for coming in contact with crypto. To reduce risk of infection, people are advised to stay away from public pools, Jacuzzis, and lakes. Pool goers are advised to check if the pools are inspected regularly by a local health department. Also, consumers are advised to be socially responsible swimmers and wait several days after recovering from any kind of gastrointestinal illness before hopping into the pool and potentially endangering others.

Read more here- “What is Cryptosporidium, and Should You Be Concerned?” (Jessica Firger, Newsweek)

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Mackenzie is a Marketing Fellow and a rising junior at Villanova University. She is planning to co-major in Marketing and Finance and minor in Business Entrepreneurship. As a part of her studies, she has created and presented a comprehensive marketing plan to professionals from The Vanguard Group featuring Vanguard's exchange-traded funds.

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