Keep Crypto Out Of Your Summer Swimming Experience

Armen Hareyan's picture

Recreational Water Illness

Many Iowans head to the swimming pool, aquatic park or a lake to catch a break from the summer heat, not to catch a recreational water illness.

In observance of National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week (May 21-27), The Iowa Department of Public Health is highlighting the importance of healthy swimming behaviors and recreational water illness prevention. IDPH urges swimmers to adopt healthy swimming behaviors that will protect oneself, one's family, and fellow swimmers from the spread of recreational water illnesses.


Swimming areas at lakes, rivers and ponds can be contaminated by runoff or by the swimmers. Swimming pools, wading pools and spas can be contaminated by the people that use them, especially when people (including children) swim when they have diarrhea. Germs on and in swimmers end up in the water and can make other swimmers ill. Even healthy swimmers can get sick, but the young, elderly, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons are at greater risk.

Poor maintenance and inadequate chlorination can contribute to the transmission of disease in pools and spas. Most bacteria are quickly killed when the chlorine level meets the requirements of IDPH rules. Nationally, 62% of recreational water illness outbreaks are caused by Cryptosporidium (Crypto), a chlorine-resistant pathogen. A swimmer ill with Crypto can shed tens of millions of organisms into the water and put other bathers at risk.

"For a healthy swimming experience, anyone with diarrhea needs to stay out of the water until they are well," said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, State Medical Director and Epidemiologist.

Other actions you can take to promote health swimming include: