Cryptosporidium lives in the intestines of humans and animals, or in raw fruit and vegetables. In swimming pools and spas, cryptosporidium is often transmitted into the water via human or animal fecal waste, or through sewage.
The organism's environmentally resistant cyst allows it to survive even heavy chlorination for over a week, making it difficult to destroy through ordinary sanitation methods. The only effective way to prevent a cryptosporidium infestation is to educate bathers on proper health practices, such as thoroughly washing their hands, and showering before entering the pool.
Once it has migrated to a new host via the water, crypto causes an infection known as cryptosporidiosis (the infection, like the organism itself, is sometimes known as "crypto"). The most common symptoms of cryptosporidiosis are as follows:
- Stomach cramps or pain
- Weight loss
However, some patients experience few or no symptoms. Symptoms typically persist for 1 to 2 weeks in persons with healthy immune systems. In certain individuals, however, symptoms may persist for up to 30 days.
While no real cure exists for cryptosporidiosis, doctors usually recommend rest and hydration. The infection is self-limiting, and the parasites often die out within 1 to 2 weeks.
- Seeing the Threat — Aquatics International — 3.15.2009
- Cross Contamination — Aquatics International — 4.15.2009
- Facing the Enemy — Aquatics International — 5.15.2009
- Crypto Epidemiology — Aquatics International — 3.15.2009
- Studies Show Pool Hygiene Poor — Pool & Spa News — 6.23.2009
- CDC Page on Cryptosporidiosis
- Crypto Life Cycle and Symptoms
- Crypto a Top Priority at Dallas-Area Pools