WARNING: Parasite could be lurking in pools

DeKALB COUNTY, Ga. — As children start heading to pools this summer, there is a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about a dangerous parasite.

Cryptosporidium, or crypto, is a parasite that has been linked to pools and water parks.

While the CDC is not tracking any cases here in Georgia, they say this warning is for everybody using public pools.

Here’s how the crypto parasite spreads: “If someone has a diarrhea incident in the water, and someone else comes around and swallows that contaminated water, it spreads," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program.

She said when a person swallows contaminated water, they could have diarrhea that lasts up to three weeks, and since it’s mostly young people who swallow pool water, parents need to teach their children about water safety.

“As the parent of a 2-year-old, I know exactly how hard that is (to keep kids from drinking swim water), so it’s really important. If we’re good about doing it at the lake where there is no chlorine in the water, we need to be just as good about reminding our little ones not to swallow the water in the pool,” Hlavsa said.


Channel 2's Lori Wilson found out what steps some pools in the metro area are taking to make sure they have a healthy swimming season.

“We make sure before the pools open every morning the water is tested,” said Marvin Billups, the interim director of Parks and Recreation for DeKalb County. “We make sure that the pH is right and from that point on we’re ready to go.”

Billups said his crew has been busy getting pools prepared for summer swimmers and visitors to the water park. He said the department hires professionals to make sure the water is balanced and clean.

“We hire contractors to handle that, and that’s for the chemical composition of the water, and that’s for the lifeguarding of all the kids and adults we have in that area," Billups said.

The CDC hopes parents will take heed before there are any problems in the water.

“So, really, this is just a reminder to everyone (that) we have to be smarter about how we swim, and swim healthy, not swim with diarrhea and not swallow the water we swim in," Hlavsa said.

The CDC also recommends that parents make sure young people shower before they get into the water. It also said if you take young children to the pool, make sure you take them to the bathroom frequently as a precaution.