A couple of weeks ago I attended the World Aquatic Conference in Atlanta that focused on health and safety issues in aquatic recreation. There were a few sessions on Cryptosporidium and pool contamination.
A long time ago I spend three months in rural Ivory Coast in Africa and saw the effects of parasites on health. There it is a daily, widespread and often fatal problem. Trying to eradicate the parasites is impossible, so most of the medical effort centered on treatment. Luckily, we have very few parasitic diseases so general knowledge about parasite patterns of transmission and growth are widely known.
Parasites in Pools and Lakes
Cryptosporidium, or Crypto for short, can be a serious health problem from pools and lakes. Giardia in lakes is a type of Crypto. Both parasites set up home in the intestines of mammals and cause diarrhea with the accompanying dehydration.
Contrary to most people’s belief, these parasites do not proliferate or “grow” in the water – only inside mammal’s intestines. They can live in the water for long periods of time waiting for an unsuspecting mammal, maybe you, to swallow the water. Then they set up shop and start to divide causing intestinal disease. Huge numbers of Cryptosporidium parasites can reside in every stool from an infected animal or human. As few a 10 ingested organisms can cause serious disease.
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