Cases of “Crypto”, Linked to Swimming Pools and Water Parks Doubled Since 2014

Cases of “Crypto”, Linked to Swimming Pools and Water Parks Doubled Since 2014

The Center for Disease Control warns that Cryptosporidium, also known as Crypto which is linked to swimming pools and water parks has doubled between 2014 and 2016.

Crypto is the most common cause of diarrhea-causing illness and outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds due to chlorine not easily killing it. The parasite can live in chlorinated water for up to 10 days studies show. Swallowing only a mouthful of water contaminated with the feces (poop) of a sick person, which includes diarrhea. A healthy person can become ill for three weeks, suffering from watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, which in some cases leads to dehydration.

In 2011 there were 20 reported cases which were linked to swimming, in 2012 there were 16 cases, in 2013 there were 13 cases, in 2014 there were 16 cases, but in 2016 the number jumped to 32 cases. CDC officials said it is unclear if this is due to better laboratory testing and detection or if the instances are simply rising. “To help protect your family and friends from Crypto and other diarrhea-causing germs, do not swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea,” said Michele Hlavsa, R.N., M.P.H., chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “Protect yourself from getting sick by not swallowing the water in which you swim.”

Although standard levels of pool chemicals kill most germs in minutes, Crypto is more difficult to kill so the CDC recommends that if there is a diarrheal incidence in a pool, you should close the pool and treat with a high level of chlorine, called hyperchlorination.

The best way to help protect yourself and others from germs that cause diarrhea is to follow these steps:

  • Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.
    • If diarrhea is caused by Crypto, wait until two weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
  • Don’t swallow the water in which you swim.
  • Rinse off in the shower before getting in the water to help remove any germs on your body that could contaminate the water.
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks often, and check diapers in a diaper-changing area and not right next to the pool.

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week begins on May 22. CDC encourages swimmers to help protect themselves, family, and friends from Cryptosporidium and other germs in the water we swim in. For more information and other healthy and safe swimming steps, visit


Report Year Crypto Outbreaks
2011 20
2012 16
2013 13
2014 16
2015 No data provided
2016 32

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Image Sources:

  • Crypto Parasite: CDC