Before you jump in the pool this summer, you'll want to do your homework.
Pinellas and Polk Counties are both investigating cases of a nasty parasite known as cryptosporidium, or crypto.
Pinellas County has 13 cases. Polk County has 11.
There’s a nationwide outbreak, too. Cases have more than doubled over the past few years.
As a retired nurse, Ramona Delgado knows how important it is to keep her granddaughter healthy. Her biggest message to 3-year-old Alana, “No drinking the water!”
Delgado knows just one gulp of pool water could make Alana sick. “It’s very serious. It’s something we watch carefully,” she explained.
It’s something Pinellas County is watching carefully too. The Crypto parasite can make you sick for weeks, and you can catch it just by jumping in the water.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has pool inspectors going around every public pool in the area, including gyms, apartment and condo complexes. They're inspecting more often to keep you safe.
“I go as far down as I can to get the most accurate sample as possible,” explained Sharyn Tucker as she scooped up water from a pool in Palm Harbor for testing.
Tucker and her team are in charge of testing 4,000 public pools.
She encourages you to carefully look over any pool before getting in. “If you see a green color or you see algae, that’s a good way to know it’s not being taken care of as much.”
She also says to never ignore signs warning of a closed pool.
You can even check your neighborhood pool’s latest health inspection report here: https://s2.ebridge.com/ebridge/3.0/default.aspx?1 by using the username public, password public and file cabinet PINCHD, then click retrieve, select swimming pools/spas and hit search.
The fastest way the crypto parasite spreads is through diarrhea, like leaky diapers in the pool. Tucker suggests putting toddlers in swim diapers then using plastic diaper covers for swim time.
The scariest thing: regular chlorine doesn’t kill crypto, so the parasite can survive 10 days in perfectly treated water. Shocking the pool is the only way to kill crypto.
Pinellas and Polk County leaders hope you’ll help them fight crypto too, by staying out of the water for at least 48 hours when you’re sick.
Here's a fact sheet on Crypto: