Bacteria lurking in some pool water can make you sick

A common bacteria that can you sick is cryptosporidium, commonly known as crypto

Swimming pool

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A trip to the pool can be refreshing on a hot summer day, but water-borne illnesses could be lurking and swimmers need to know what to do.

A common bacteria that can make you sick is cryptosporidium, commonly known as crypto. The bacteria come from fecal matter.

Crypto is one of the most common causes of recreational water illness (disease caused by germs spread through pool water) in the United States and can cause prolonged diarrhea (for 1–2 weeks). It can make anyone sick, but certain groups of people are more likely to become seriously ill when infected with Crypto: Young children, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system.

“If you are inside the pool and swallow bacteria, you have the potential of getting sick,” said Ryan Tekac, Mahoning County Health Department.

It just takes one accident by an infected person to contaminate the water. The CDC says outbreaks of crypto are on the rise across the country, and it was a big problem for pools in Ohio last year.

Locally, there have been no reports of crypto, but checks are made frequently of pools to make sure chemical levels are just right.

“Water chemistry is important because you want to ensure that you have adequate disinfectant inside the pool,” Tekac said.

Terry Shaffer has been the pool manager at Firestone pool for 36 years and says they have never had issues with waterborne illnesses.

“We check at least 7 to 8 times a day, and we are very proficient on that. We try to stay up on that all the time,” Shaffer said.

Parents also play a big role in helping to keep the water safe and clean. Children who have recently had diarrhea should stay home. Emergency room physician Dr. Pete Varlas said a good rule of thumb is two weeks.

“That’s why we have a 45-minutee swim each hour and 15-minute breaks so the kids and adults can go to the bathroom,” Shaffer said.

Crypto can stay alive is some of the best maintained pools. According to the CDC the most common ways to avoid getting sick are:

  • Keep fecal matter, sweat and dirt out of the water – shower before you get in
  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water
  • Don’t swallow the water and avoid getting it in your mouth
  • Every hour—everyone out!  Take kids on bathroom breaks
  •  Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool
  • Reapply sunscreen
  • Drink plenty of fluids


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