Aquatics and Commercial

Beware the summer crypto crisis – especially in rural swimming pools

December 15, 2015
Cryptosporidium cysts breaking open and trophs coming out (Image:

NSW Health is warning of the increased danger of cryptosporidiosis (commonly known as crypto) in swimming pools this summer. Dr Jeremy McAnulty, director of health protection says NSW Health has seen a rise in the number of cryptosporidiosis notifications to public health units in many parts of NSW, especially in rural areas.

Cryptosporidiosis occurs after a person swallows the parasite cryptosporidium. Infection causes watery diarrhoea that can last for weeks. This parasite is very small and hardy, and can survive in chlorinated pool water for many days. Swimming pools can be contaminated by swimmers who have the infection, and swimmers can be infected after swallowing even small amounts of pool water.

The NSW Health Clean Pools for Healthy Swimming posters and brochures for cryptosporidium prevention are available on the NSW Health’s website.

The most important message in these educational resources is to ensure that people don’t swim if they have had diarrhoea in the past two weeks,” says McAnulty.

NSW Health recommends that the Clean Pools for Healthy Swimming brochures are handed out when children are registered for swimming lessons. It is also good policy to allow make-up lessons when a child is sick. This encourages parents to keep their children at home and out of the pool until two weeks after they have had diarrhoea. This helps prevent the spread of diseases in swimming pools.

The NSW Health Public Swimming Pool and Spa Pool Advisory document (Chapter 8 on the website) provides good advice for pool managers on ways to prevent cryptosporidiosis. Outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis are common. Some simple management strategies such as regular superchlorination of a swimming pool and/or hyperchlorination when a cluster of cases have been linked to your pool, can help protect public health and your business.

Should you require any additional information in regard to cryptosporidium prevention, NSW Health suggests you contact your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.


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