PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas and Pasco County Health Departments are warning you to watch out for a parasite called cryptosporidium that has been found in Florida pools.
Even in crystal clear pools, local health departments are finding the parasite, which spreads through diarrhea or leaky diapers.
In 2019 alone, the Florida Department of Health investigated nearly 300 possible and confirmed cases statewide including 26 in Pinellas, 12 in Hillsborough and 10 in Pasco.
The parasite can live for up to 10 days in swimming pools and can make you sick for weeks. The worst part? It's invisible.
“No, there's no way to tell," Garik Nicholson with the Pasco County Health Department explained. "It’s a microscopic parasite so you can’t see it."
Pasco County inspectors are staying busy testing thousands of public pools including the ones at gyms, apartments and condo complexes.
Health officials are urging you to stay out of the pool for a full two weeks after getting sick. They also recommend showering off before and after you get in the water. You can also check your pool’s latest health inspection report— with just a few clicks on the health department’s website.
Crypto can also be spread throughout households and in child care facilities where there’s poor hygiene after changing diapers.
In 2014, DOH-Pinellas witnessed more than 200 reported cases of crypto in Pinellas County.
Parents and caregivers can follow these steps to avoid cryptosporidium:
• Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers often.
• Change diapers in a bathroom and not at the poolside as germs can spread to surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness.
• Shower before entering the water.
• Wash your hands with soap and water after changing a child’s diaper.