BIRMINGHAM, Ala, (WIAT) — Alabama swimming pools and splash pads are taking precautions after a warning from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about a parasite, cryptosporidiosis, known as “crypto”.
The infection can cause severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and nausea for several days.
According to the CDC, the number of cases has increased each year since 2009.
In Jefferson County, leaders said they see about 15-20 cases per year, but have not seen a significant outbreak since 2016.
“It could be on a surface, so it could be on a toy, it could be on the water, and if you are touching that surface and let’s say you touched your eyes or your mouth, that’s how it kind of gets into your system,” said David Hicks, a deputy public health officer with the Jefferson County Department of Public Health.
Hicks stressed the importance of not ingesting recreational water that could contain the bacteria.
For children, proper hygiene is especially important and diapers should be changed away from the pool. Hicks also encouraged parents to consider what their child was wearing to the water.
“If you have a young one, you want to actually make sure you give them proper diapers, they are swim diapers, so if they have an accident, even if you may not be aware of it, that’s not spreading germs around,” said Hicks.
Parents enjoying the many splash pads around Birmingham said the warning will have them taking precautions, but not ruining summer activities.
“It’s not going to keep me from having fun, but I am going to be safe about it. If I know better, I am going to do better,” said Vincent Walker.
Walker makes sure his little one knows not to drink the water at public recreational swimming areas, but he also makes sure she takes plenty of restroom breaks.
“With kids, the fun takes over and before they know it, they have to go to the bathroom and it’s way too late, the bathroom could be 200 yards away, if you tell me earlier we can make it there, but if you wait till the last minute, that’s the day gone right there,” said Walker.
Splash pads and pools are inspected by JCDH every 30 days. At the Hoover Met, the splash pad is closed every Monday for cleaning and maintenance.
“We clean out particles of hair, of grass, of different things that get caught up in the system and then we’ll also clean around those areas,” said Harry Leckemby Jr, who is the facility operations coordinator.
In addition to daily physical checks, Leckemby said a computer monitors chemical levels each day. The facility treats water just like a pool.
“We come out and clean all of our equipment, making sure it is up to par. It also gives us a chance to backwash our system and make sure all of our chemical levels are correct as we monitor constantly during the week,” said Leckenby.
For parents like Walker, the reminders are simple, but he said you can’t be too careful when it comes’ to the health of children.
“It’s a totally different experience being a parent now, I am watching everything,” said Walker.
Many area splash pads like Hoover and Gardendale close Monday for cleaning. Other cities like Vestavia Hills and Adamsville use constant fresh water that is not recycled.
For more information on the inspections done at public pools across Jefferson County, click here.