Pool parasite sickens high school swimmers

Swim team members in Durham and Orange Counties tested positive for a disease caused by a swimming pool parasite
December 12, 2013 3:05:35 PM PST
Several high school swim team members in Durham and Orange Counties have tested positive for a disease caused by a swimming pool parasite.

Test results confirm at least three students have Cryptosporidiosis, more commonly known as Crypto. Two of the confirmed cases were in Durham County and one in Orange County. Three more suspected cases are awaiting test results.

"It's a water-borne illness. It is generally a diarrheal illness of short duration," said Susan Thompson, of the Durham County Department of Public Health. "Symptoms are generally diarrhea but you can also have abdominal cramps and vomiting."

The parasite can survive in properly chlorinated pools for a couple days. The only real way to stop the spread of the disease is to stay out of the water.

"Any diarrheal illness can be spread through recreational waters," Thompson said.

Health officials cannot pinpoint a specific pool because the students who fell ill were on competitive swim teams and were in multiple pools for meets and practices.

Most pools in both counties closed voluntarily and performed a hyper-chlorination treatment. All have since reopened.

Health departments sent out a letter to area athletes and coaches advising them to stay out of the pool for two weeks after becoming sick.

Anyone with additional questions is asked to contact either the Durham County communicable disease nurse at (919) 560-7635 or the Orange County nurse at (919) 245-2340.

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