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With 2-3 months of hot weather still ahead in the Charlotte area, swimming pools are seeing a lot of traffic. That’s why this warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is especially alarming. Cooling off a public pool this summer comes with a risk of coming into contact with a diarrhea-causing fecal parasite.

Cryptosporidium, or crypto, can lead to “profuse, watery diarrhea” in healthy adults for as long as three weeks. Symptoms may also include painful stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss.

According to the CDC, this bug is rarely fatal. One crypto-related death has been reported since 2009 in the U.S., but 287 people were hospitalized between 2009 and 2017. Exposure to the parasite caused 7,465 illnesses during that time.

The parasite is usually spread by people, mainly kids, who swim too soon after having diarrhea. The CDC urges diarrhea sufferers to avoid swimming for at least another two weeks after they’re, um, back on solid ground.

Here’s why this problem has been increasing: crypto is highly resistant to disinfectants. Unlike most germs, which are killed within minutes by pool chemicals such as chlorine or bromine, crypto can survive in treated water for up to a week. Is that enough to keep you out of public pools and water parks?

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