COLUMBIA FALLS – Before you and your family head to the pools and water parks this summer, you should be aware of the parasite Cryptosporidium — more commonly known as “Crypto.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are many different types of Cryptosporidium that infect animals and humans.
Recreational water use is the most common way to spread the parasite, which is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the U.S.
Roger Elliott, Big Sky Waterpark general manager, says Crypto can be easily spread if a person who has had diarrhea and vomiting within the last two weeks enters the water.
“Cryptosporidium is a spore baring bug that is protected in environments like guts and swimming environments with chlorine, and the spore protects that bug from being harmed by regular amounts of chlorine,” said Elliott.
Elliott told MTN News that parents must have swim diapers on their children if they are going into the water. Often times crypto can spread if infants are not wearing the proper diapers.
“Young babies that don’t wear swim diapers can have accidents in the pool,” explained Elliott.
While Big Sky Waterpark closely monitors and sterilizes the water, it’s important you do your part. For example, avoid the water park if you have diarrhea, vomiting and always shower before entering the pool.
Elliott says in his 37 years he’s been at the water park, they have never had a Crypto outbreak, and they would like to keep it that way.
If you or your child is sick with any of these symptoms and still wants to have fun at Big Sky Waterpark, Elliott reminds people that the site has an antique carousel, a rock wall and go-carts.
The group Safe Kids Missoula advises to make sure kids aren’t swimming alone and that there is always an older more experienced swimmer present every time.
You should also educate your children on the dangers of storm drains and tell kids to steer clear of them. Additionally, having someone present who can perform CPR is a huge advantage to keeping your kids safe.
Children also need your full undivided attention which means avoiding one big distraction.
“We have a new distraction in our culture cell phones and we can get distracted very easily. I’m sometimes one of the bigger ducks in the puddle but I think that when there is a hazard such as water it’s important to put the phones down and really focus on the task at hand and focus on our kids,” said Dr. Robert Roeper with Community Medical Center.
CMC reports that drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four.
-Reporting by Maren Siu and Connor McCauley for MTN News