A Blountsville, Alabama water park will be closed today due to the possible presence of the protozoan parasite, Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto” under the advice of health officials. The Spring Valley Beach Water Park made the announcement late last night on Facebook:
“Today we have taken preventative measures with the recommendation of the Health Department to close the park for tomorrow, August 14th. There is a parasite called cryptosporidium, which has possibly been traced to our park. This particular parasite has an incubation period that can live in properly chlorinated water for up to 10 days. It is introduced to the water from an outside source and is most commonly transferred in recreational water.
“Though we test our water every 2 hours throughout the day, there is no simple test for this particular parasite. Although the incubation period has passed from the time it was introduced to our pool, we were advised this afternoon to close the park for tomorrow and let the Health Department come out on Monday and do testing. We apologize for any inconvenience or worry this has caused. We will work with the Health Department on this matter and keep everyone informed as we know more information.”
While some people with Crypto will have no symptoms, the most common symptom is watery diarrhea that generally begins one week (ranging from 2-10 days) after infection. Other symptoms include stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss. Persons with healthy immune systems usually recover in one to two weeks without treatment, while individuals with weakened immune systems can have more prolonged or severe symptoms.
Crypto is typically spread in swimming pools or other recreational water when an infected person swims or plays in the water, contaminating the water with fecal matter. Although chlorine kills most germs in swimming pools, Crypto can even survive in properly chlorinated water for long periods of time. Outbreaks have also been associated with petting zoos that include contaminated livestock.
Crypto can be highly contagious. Public health strongly recommends that infected individuals follow these guidelines to avoid spreading the disease to others:
- Do not swim or play in recreational water (pools, hot tubs, splash pads, lakes, rivers, etc.) if you have diarrhea and for at least 2 weeks after the diarrhea stops.
- Wash hands with soap and water thoroughly before preparing food and after toileting or diapering. Alcohol based hand sanitizer is not effective against Crypto.
- Avoid food preparation while symptoms last.
- Children with diarrhea should be excluded from child care settings until the diarrhea has stopped.
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