- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ATLANTA (UPI) — The number of recreational water illnesses reported in 2007 was a record, and it is expected to rise further, U.S. health officials said.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said recreational water illnesses are spread by swallowing, breathing or having contact with germs in the water of swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers or oceans.

“The leading cause of recreational water-illness outbreaks is cryptosporidium, or “crypto,” a chlorine-resistant parasite associated with treated swimming places, such as pools and water parks,” said Michele Hlavsa, an epidemiologist at the CDC.

From 2004 to 2007, the number of crypto cases tripled. During the same period, the number of crypto outbreaks linked to swimming pools more than doubled.

Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea, vomiting and fever.

The parasite is spread by swallowing water contaminated with cryptosporidium. Some people have no symptoms and most who have healthy immune systems will recover with no treatment, but for those with weakened immune systems, the illness can be severe or life-threatening, officials said.

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