Want to avoid getting sick at the pool? ‘Wash your bum!’ Health Dept. says

Posted at 4:02 PM, Jun 10, 2014

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- It's summertime and it's pool season.

The Salt Lake County Health Department is out testing the waters, to keep sickness from spreading. Cryptosporidium is an annual threat at public pools.

"All it takes is for somebody to accidentally swallow a little bit of that pool water, and they can actually get sick with something like crypto and have to suffer diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramping, vomiting," said Rick Ledbetter, with the health department.

Salt Lake County battled an outbreak of cryptosporidium in 2007 and a spike in cases in 2012. Health officials say it can be easily prevented -- if swimmers practice proper hygiene before diving into the pool.

"Wash your bum!" Ledbetter said. "Use plenty of soap, scrub down thoroughly. If you're a mom of little children, use diapers, wash their bum and make sure you wash your hands before you come back to the pool so again we're not spreading germs."

At the Redwood Recreation Center, the pool is closed for five minutes every hour to encourage people to take a bathroom break, rather than going in the pool. Every other hour, the water is tested for bacteria.

The pool's manager, Avonte King-Henry, said they're vigilant about germs, knowing how fast crypto can spread.

"Super fast, especially with diarrhea," he said. "That cloud that happens, it just spreads so fast. It's so important to get them out and close the pool off."

To battle crypto, the Salt Lake County Health Department has launched public service campaigns warning about diarrhea and swimming.

The Salt Lake County Health Department tests all community pools, including public facilities and those at condo or apartment complexes -- nearly 2,000 in all.

But health officials said swimmers are the best defense against crypto. That's why they're renewing the push for swim diapers, showers and germ free pools.

"It's very important. Very, very important," said Danica Vogan, who was swimming with her children on Tuesday afternoon. "Their health is probably the most important thing."

RELATED: Info on crypto from the Utah Department of Health, including reports on pools