Cryptosporidium FAQ

Cryptosporidium is an increasing threat to swimmers in commercial pools, and aquatics professionals, facility managers and pool operators should be aware of how they can best combat this serious problem.

What is Cryptosporidium?

Cryptosporidium parvum, commonly known as Crypto, is a chlorine-resistant, microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Cryptosporidium is the leading cause of waterborne disease in the United States.

How does Cryptosporidium spread?

Although Crypto spreads in many ways, the most common way it spreads is through water, including pools and spas. Cryptosporidium is present in the gut of infected animals and humans and reaches water through fecal matter. If measures are not taken to sanitize pool water that effectively destroy Crypto, people who swim in the water may become ill.

What are the health effects of Cryptosporidium?

Crypto becomes symptomatic on average a week after exposure to the bacteria, and symptoms continue on average for one to two weeks. Crypto can lead to hospitalization and, in extreme cases, it can be fatal. Symptoms include:

  • Watery diarrhea (most common symptom)
  • Stomach cramps and/or pain
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

A Crypto infection can also be asymptomatic.

Who is most at risk for a Crypotosporidiosis?

Crypto can affect all people, but certain groups are more likely to develop a serious illness from the bacteria. Those with compromised immune systems, such as those living with AIDS, cancer, autoimmune diseases and those on immunosuppressants, are more likely to develop a serious or life-threatening illness from Crypto. Young children and pregnant women are also likely to become more seriously ill from a Crypto infection.

Others more likely to contract a Crypto infection include:

  • Children (particularly those of diaper age)
  • Parents of infected children
  • International travelers
  • People, particularly swimmers, who swallow contaminated water

How easy is it to get Crypto?

Swallowing as few as 10 Cryptosporidium germs can result in a Crypto infection.

How common are Crypto infections?

In the United States alone, an estimated 748,000 infections occur yearly.

How can I avoid getting or spreading Cryptosporidium when swimming?

  • Do not swallow pool water
  • Do not swim in pools if you are ill with diarrhea
  • Take young children for bathroom breaks every 60 minutes, and constantly check the diapers of younger children

Why is Cryptosporidium in pools?

The Cryptosporidium parasite is chlorine resistant so it can be alive and present in chlorine-treated pools and water parks for days. Pools using Clear Comfort’s advanced oxidation technology are less likely to spread Crypto because the hydroxyls produced by the system destroy Crypto on contact.

How effective is chlorine against Cryptosporidium?

Cryptosporidium is extremely tolerant to the chlorine levels found in a typical public pool. Hyperchlorination is required to effectively combat Crypto. Hyperchlorination, and the presence of Crypto, within a pool requires the pool to be shut until chlorine levels decrease to levels safe for swimmers.

What does Clear Comfort’s LifeGuard Technology do to combat Cryptosporidium?

The Clear Comfort system produces highly potent and short lived hydroxyl radicals that are soluble in water. When these hydroxyl radicals come in contact with protozoa, bacteria and viruses, the hydroxyl radicals attach themselves to the cell walls. Once attached, hydroxyls quickly oxidize the outer membrane of the microbe. The oxidation of the cell walls of the microbes exposes the inner parts of the cell, resulting in immediate cell death.

How effective is Clear Comfort’s pool system in eliminating Cryptosporidium?

Clear Comfort’s Advanced Oxidation Process has been shown by independent laboratory studies to eliminate 99.9 percent of Cryptosporidium, even when it is present in the pool at high load concentration. 

How is Clear Comfort’s system different than other pool systems in combating Cryptosporidium?

Clear Comfort destroys Crypto more rapidly and efficiently than other disinfection methods. Download the university study to learn more.

Traditional chlorine pool systems are ineffective against Cryptosporidium in pools, unless the pool is shocked with a large amount of chlorine, known as hyperchlorination. According to the CDC, hyperchlorination will destroy 99.9 percent of the infectivity of the Cryptosporidium present in the pool, but will not destroy the structure of the parasite itself. UV pool systems require a specific UV dose for 99.9 percent inactivation of the Cryptosporidium parasites, although the parasite itself is not eliminated. Ozone will kill 99.9 percent of Cryptosporidium through a side stream of the circulation system, but studies show Clear Comfort’s Advanced Oxidation Process destroys Crypto five times more efficiently.