Pools close after swim team members fall sick
Swimming pools in Durham and Orange counties closed last weekend after swim team members tested positive for an intestinal disease, but the pools have reopened, and health officials said Thursday it’s safe for those not infected to return to the water.
Three swim team members from the two counties tested positive for Cryptosporidium (Crypto), and three more have reported symptoms and are awaiting test results.
Crypto is a disease caused by a parasite that can be transmitted from one swimmer to another in pools. It is found in fecal matter of an infected person.
The parasite can survive for days, even in a properly chlorinated pool, health official said.
Symptoms usually develop within 12 days of exposure and include watery diarrhea, stomach pain and cramps and a low fever. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and dehydration.
In Durham, the city’s two heated pools – Edison Johnson Aquatic Center on Murray Avenue off Duke Street, and Campus Hills Pool near N.C. Central University – closed last weekend as a precaution. Four private pools in Durham, including two at Duke University, also closed for the weekend. The water was hyper-chlorinated and the pools reopened Monday.
In Orange County, all pools were hyper-chlorinated, and most closed for varying times until the chlorine level could return to normal, according to Stacy Shelp, public information officer for the Orange County Health Department.
All have reopened.
“It’s a nasty illness for anybody who gets it, but it’s especially dangerous for those with weakened immune systems, and then it can be life-threatening,” Shelp said. “We want to be sure we take every precaution necessary.”
She said pool managers are being asked to hyper-chlorinate their pools at least once a week from now on as a precaution. But health officials said those measure are effective only if infected swimmers don’t re-enter the pool for two weeks after their last “diarrheal event.”
Shelp said none of the Crypto cases was linked to a specific pool.
Health officials said swim team members have used different pools in two counties, so all pools were hyper-chlorinated, which normally kills the parasite.
It’s safe to go back into the pool, Shelp said, but she suggested that swimmers ask pool managers when they last hyper-chlorinated.
“We’ve asked them to issue health advisories at the pool to let swimmers know what they’ve done at that pool to make it safe,” she said.
In addition to working with pool management, letters were sent to parents and coaches of the swim teams affected informing them of the illness, preventive steps they should take and asking for compliance.