Health officials with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention are warning Americans to take precautions after a report in the rise of 'crypto,' a fecal parasite that can be transmitted via swimming pools, is on the rise.
The parasite known as cryptosporidium, or 'crypto' for short, causes cryptosporidioisis and can leave otherwise healthy adults sprinting for the bathroom with "profuse, watery diarrhea" for as long as three weeks. Symptoms can be even worse for children, elderly adults, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.
"The number of treated recreational water-associated outbreaks caused by cryptosporidium drives the summer seasonal peak in both waterborne cryptosporidiosis outbreaks and cryptosporidiosis outbreaks overall," according to a statement from the CDC.
Crypto is almost never fatal, with only one death reported since 2009, with around another 287 people hospitalized for the parasite between 2009 and 2017, the CDC said.
The report issued by the CDC on Friday demonstrated a sharp rise in cases of the parasite over the last decade, with 444 crptosporidiosis outbreaks in 40 states and Puerto Rico. Those outbreaks resulted in 7,465 people falling ill. Most of those cases were reported during the summer months of July and August when people were most likely to head to the pool.
Crpyto is a problem swimming pools because an infected swimmer can contaminate the water and the parasite is highly tolerant to chlorine and can even survive in pools that have been properly chlorinated for up to seven days.
Anyone who has become sick within the last two weeks should avoid jumping in the pool, the CDC says.