Ed Yeates ReportingThe State Health Department reports an outbreak of diarrhea from a parasite called Cryptosporidium. There have been 76 reported cases in only three counties over the past few weeks. A lot more unreported cases are probably still out there.
The Steiner Pool in Salt Lake was closed at 6:00 last night as a precaution, not because Cryptosporidium was found in the water, but because operators there wanted to make absolutely sure the water was safe.
People have been flocking to public pools this summer to cool off. When it comes to Cryptosporidium, it takes only one person with diarrhea to contaminate the water.
The Steiner Pool did not have the parasite, but Salt Lake County temporarily closed for it for eight hours as a precaution to super-treat the water.
Martin Jensen, with Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, said, "We closed the pool immediately and upped the chlorine level. We super-chlorinated the pool. Then we bring the chlorine back down to a safe level and re-open the pool."
Super chlorination is necessary because the parasite has a tough shell that is resistant to normal chemical levels used to treat pools.
What happens when people get sick from Crypto?
Rich Lakin works in Disease Investigation for the State Health Dept. and says, "Kind of flu-like symptoms. The most common is watery diarrhea. The risk to that, obviously to very small children, what will happen is they become dehydrated."
The Fisher family has been fighting the effects of Cryptosporidium for weeks. They went swimming in two different pools and aren't sure which one they picked it up from. For the most part, the Fisher family has recovered now, except for two-year-old Tyson. He's still feeling the effects of that parasite.
Jeanette Fisher says, "It ruined our whole summer, it really did. We cancelled most of our plans just because we never knew when the diarrhea or throw-up was going to come out."
The Health Department doesn't mix words. They say:
- Don't swim if you have diarrhea.
- Don't swallow the water.
- Take a shower before swimming.
- Take small kids on bathroom breaks frequently, check diapers often, and don't change diapers at poolside. In addition to small children, adults with compromised immune systems are high at risk for complications.