State health officials are proposing changes to public pool rules to prevent an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis like the one that plagued swim pools last year, sickening nearly 2,000 Utahns.
The proposal, open for public comment for the next 30 days, was released Tuesday. It tells people who have or recently had diarrhea to stay out of pools, provides guidance on hygiene before entering the pools use soap and requires that children under 3 or others with poor bowel control wear both a swim diaper and waterproof swim pants.
If it's adopted, the reworked rule becomes the same as law, said Theron Jeppson, communicable disease health educator in the Utah
Department of Health. It's also sound practice. "If these behaviors are done by all swimmers, it will help to prevent an outbreak this year," he said.
Crypto comes from a hard-to-kill parasite that lives in human and other animal intestines. There are as many as 1 billion crypto germs in a single infected diarrheal bowel movement and it only takes about 10 of them to make someone else sick, Jeppson said. If someone with crypto "leaks" into a pool, it puts other swimmers at risk of infection, which causes watery diarrhea, stomach cramps and pain, nausea, vomiting and fever, as well as subsequent dehydration and weight loss. Symptoms can last a couple of weeks and may vary in intensity.
Besides requiring a swim diaper for those of all ages who lack adequate bowel control, the rule also requires reusable waterproof pants that fit tightly around the legs and waist and help contain waste. It's an added level of protection, Jeppson said.
Swimmers will be expected to shower with soap and water before getting in the pool and whenever they use the rest room or change a diaper something officials ask swimmers to do often. Diapers are to be changed in the bathroom, not at pool side. And parents are counseled to wash their small child's bottom with soap and water when they change that diaper, then wash their own hands thoroughly.
The proposed rule also warns against swallowing pool water or even getting it in your mouth.
"We want to keep crypto out of the pool," said Jeppson. "The more germs get in, the harder the chlorine has to work and crypto is one of those things it doesn't kill at a normal pool level."
E-mail: [email protected]