SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Pat Jones YMCA pool in South Springfield is closed after someone who swam in it was diagnosed with the parasite cryptosporidium
“At this moment we are not lead to believe that it was contracted through the water,” said Erin Shaw, executive director at Pat Jones Y and Association Aquatic Lead.
But even so, she says they are taking precautions after the Health Department recommended a deep clean of the pool.
“The safety the members and our community is our top priority,” said Shaw.
The clean up started Monday afternoon, as soon as the Y was contacted by the Health Department that someone with a positive diagnosis had been in the pool.
“Super chlorinate that pool to chlorine levels that are unsafe for human exposure to a point that it would kill that parasite,” said Kendra Findley, Administrator of Community health & Epidemiology at the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
Findley says without knowing, a person can expose the water to contamination.
“People think about oh, someone had an accident in the pool that’s the problem. Actually, with crypto, it’s not the issue at all. What we’re talking about here is when you have the disease, it can shed off the body, so you don’t realize that you’re exposing the pool at the time,”
Contamination most often happens through water, but can also happen through a food source or person to person.
“If somebody has it, is infected with it, they go to the bathroom, don’t wash their hands properly and then they prepare food for you,” said Findley. “Or they touch a surface and contaminate that surface.”
Symptoms include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, cramping and possible fever. They can show up anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure and last from one to two weeks.
“Once your symptoms go away and you feel fine, you can shed that parasite in your stool for another month,” said Findley.
That’s why she says proper treatment at the pool is important to eliminate any further spread of cryptosporidium.
“It surrounds itself in a protective cyst, even in chlorinated pools it can survive for long period of time,” she says.
She says it’s important that if anyone feels any symptoms to contact a doctor. And stay away from public pools.
“Individuals who’ve had any diarrheal illness should not go to a pool,” said Findley. “If you’ve got any type of stomach illness, don’t go to our local pools. Because even though you don’t realize it, it can expose others.”
The chlorine levels here will slowly be brought down to normal in the next few days.
The Y and the Health Department say they don’t know exactly when the pool at Pat Jones will reopen. But it will be a few days. In January the pools at two Springfield Public Schools were closed for the same reason and those reopened in about 5 to 6 days.