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Cryptosporidium in Pools: Understanding the Threat

Cryptosporidium, often abbreviated as Crypto, may pose a health risk to swimmers, particularly children. Commonly found in water sources, it can lead to diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems if ingested.

Picture of test tubes and beakers filled with clear liquid and colored balls. Cryptosporidium in Pools: Understanding the Threat
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What is Cryptosporidium?

Cryptosporidium is a genus of microscopic parasites. These parasites are commonly found in water sources and can be transmitted through ingestion of contaminated water, food, or contact with infected individuals or surfaces. Cryptosporidium infections, known as cryptosporidiosis, typically manifest as watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Immunocompromised individuals and young children are particularly susceptible to severe complications from Cryptosporidium infection. Effective prevention measures include maintaining proper hygiene, ensuring water sanitation, and practising safe food handling.

The Crypto Conundrum

Cryptosporidium is highly resilient and capable of surviving in standard chlorinated water for extended periods. Its small size enables it to evade typical pool filtration systems, making it challenging to eliminate once it contaminates a pool.

Swimming pools are not the only way that this parasite can be spread. They often are the first to be blamed via association without any evidence. In fact, because pool water supplies are isolated from all other water sources once they are filled or refilled, the only way a pool can be infected is if an infected person swims in the water. Especially if they have a diarrhoea incident. This is the only way that well-maintained public and private pools are susceptible to Crypto contamination. Crowded pools increase the likelihood of transmission, as the parasite spreads through faecal matter.

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The good news is that Crypto can be combated with robust maintenance protocols and most commercial pools will have protocols in place to avoid contamination. More than that you can help by staying out of the pool if you have experienced diarrhoea illness recently.

If this information concerns you in any way you should talk to your pool and find out what prevention protocols they have in place.

Prevention Protocol

  1. Frequent Testing

  2. Regular water testing for Crypto and other contaminants is essential to ensure pool safety.
  3. Robust Filtration

  4. Employ advanced filtration systems capable of capturing microscopic parasites like Crypto.
  5. Stringent Hygiene

    1. Encourage swimmers to shower before entering the pool
    2. Requiring swimmers who have experienced diarrhoea illness recently to stay out of the water
    3. Making sure pools are cleared of customers/swimmers whenever there is a faecal or vomit incident. Until appropriate cleaning can be done. Including not reopening the pool until super-chlorination can be done overnight when there is a significant diarrhoea or vomit event.
  6. Proactive Maintenance

  7. Implement stringent cleaning protocols and promptly address any faecal incidents to minimise the risk of contamination. Immediately and regularly raise the free chlorine concentration to 40 ppm4 and maintain it for 8.5 hours chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pdf/hyperchlorination-to-kill-crypto-when-chlorine-stabilizer-is-in-the-water.pdf

The Crypto Crusade

  1. Education

  2. Raise awareness among pool owners, operators, and swimmers about the risks associated with Crypto and the importance of preventative measures.
  3. Regulatory Compliance

  4. Enforce strict health and safety regulations for pool operations to mitigate Crypto transmission.
  5. Research and Innovation

  6. Invest in research to develop more effective methods for Crypto detection and elimination in pool environments.

If You Or You Family Become Infected

Despite the best protocols, you can still be exposed to Cryptosporidium. Either through contact with contaminated sources in the environment, bad actors in the industry or just plain bad luck.

By bad luck, I mean that unfortunately, it is not unusual for children in a pool to have a faecal incident in the pool. Should this incident be diarrhoea or vomiting from a child that happens to be infected with Crypto, even though they should not have been at the pool, if before the pool could be cleared, which is normal procedure for any faecal incident, another child just happened to be taking in water at that very moment, that child could also quickly become infected.

It is therefore it is worthwhile knowing the proper treatment.


Infection is serious but treatment for Cryptosporidium can be managed https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/treatment.html. The primary focus is on relieving symptoms and supporting the body's immune response. However, individuals with severe or prolonged symptoms, especially those who are immunocompromised, should seek medical attention without delay.

Here are some approaches to managing Cryptosporidium infection:

  1. Hydration

  2. Maintaining hydration is crucial, especially if diarrhoea and vomiting are present. Drinking plenty of fluids, including oral rehydration solutions, can help replace lost electrolytes and prevent dehydration.
  3. Medications

  4. In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe medications to manage symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Antidiarrheal medications or anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended, but their use should be discussed with a healthcare professional, especially in immunocompromised individuals.
  5. Immune Support

  6. Immunocompromised individuals may require additional support to manage Cryptosporidium infection. This may include interventions to boost the immune system or adjustments to existing medication regimens to better control the infection.
  7. Close Monitoring

  8. Regular monitoring of symptoms and overall health is essential, especially for those with weakened immune systems. Any worsening of symptoms or signs of complications should prompt immediate medical attention.
  9. Prevention of Spread

  10. To prevent the spread of Cryptosporidium to others, infected individuals should practice good hygiene, including thorough handwashing with soap and water, especially after using the restroom or changing diapers.


It's essential to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on managing Cryptosporidium infection, particularly for vulnerable populations such as young children, elderly individuals, and those with weakened immune systems. Additionally, preventing Cryptosporidium infection through proper hygiene, safe food and water practices, and avoiding contact with infected individuals or contaminated environments is key.

In the battle against Cryptosporidium in pools, vigilance is paramount. By prioritising regular testing, robust filtration, stringent hygiene practices, and proactive maintenance, we can reduce the risk of Crypto contamination and create safer swimming environments for all. Remember, prevention is key to keeping Crypto at bay and ensuring enjoyable pool experiences for everyone.


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