On June 28, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a comprehensive report on the rise of Cryptosporidium (crypto) outbreaks. It stated that from 2009–2017, 444 cryptosporidiosis outbreaks, resulting in 7,465 cases were reported by 40 states and Puerto Rico.
“Exposure to treated recreational water (e.g., in pools and water playgrounds) was associated with 156 (35.1%) outbreaks resulting in 4,232 (56.7%) cases. Other predominant outbreak exposures included contact with cattle (65 outbreaks; 14.6%) and contact with infected persons in childcare settings (57; 12.8%). The annual number of reported cryptosporidiosis outbreaks overall increased an average of approximately 13% per year over time.”
Any way you look at it, that’s a stunning annual rate of increase. Crypto is clearly on the rise, especially in pools. In fact, it turns out that it is the leading cause of outbreaks of diarrhea linked to water and the third leading cause of diarrhea associated with animal contact in the U.S. It’s nasty stuff!
Cryptosporidium parvum is a family of parasite species known as oocysts, which cause cryptosporidiosis, described by the CDC as “a profuse, watery diarrhea that can last up to three weeks in immunocompetent patients and can lead to life-threatening malnutrition and wasting in immunocompromised patients.”
It’s spread by fecal-oral transmission, which occurs by ingestion of contaminated recreational water, drinking water, or food, or through contact with infected persons or animals. Suffice to say that everything about this bug is horrible and disgusting, and yet, it’s something that also warrants greater attention because the recommended treatments clearly are not getting the job done of stemming the brown tide.
In a 2012 report published in the Journal of Water and Health, a group of leading researchers wrote: “Cryptosporidium is one of the most important waterborne pathogens associated with RWI [recreational water illness] as it causes severe gastroenteritis (Cryptosporidiosis). Traditional treatment technologies, such as chlorination, have been shown to have limited efficacy against C. parvum oocysts.”
The Modern Solution
With crypto’s meteoric rise in recent years, it’s fair to say it’s become a modern pool problem. Past generations didn’t deal with it, or at least hadn’t yet associated the organism with recreational environments, and it’s not clear why this particular class of pathogens has come on so strong within a relatively short span of years.
What we do know is that it’s really tough to kill using traditional treatment methods.
“Crypto is extraordinarily resistant to chlorine,” says Beth Hamil, a consultant for the ozone industry and one of the pool and spa industry’s leading authorities on the subject. In 2016, she told AQUA Magazine, “The Ct value [the product of the concentration of a disinfectant] for chlorine to achieve a three-log reduction in Crypto is 15,600. That equates to 20 ppm [parts per million] for 13 hours. The Ct value for commercial ozone systems is 1.52. It’s literally 10,000 times more effective.”
That’s where our SRK HydroZone 3® system comes into focus. HydroZone 3 is based on the use of ozone and UV treatment, both of which are proven to kill crypto and all other known waterborne pathogens. Any type of aquatic facility equipped with HydroZone 3 will never have an outbreak of crypto.
The advantages of that assurance are profound and mostly pretty obvious. By the time someone gets sick, it’s too late. The CDC recommends closing and hypo chlorinating pools where crypto has been found. Obviously, the infinitely better approach is to prevent it, to kill it immediately. That’s what HydroZone 3 does.
The CDC also recommends making sure no one with diarrhea goes in the pool. While I’m all for promoting good hygiene, realistically there are always going to be those who don’t follow those recommendations. If there was ever a literal example of the popular adage, “shit happens,” this is it.