OGDEN -- The return of hot summer weather has people streaming to pools and parks to cool off, but public health officials are working to ensure they go home healthy.
In case you've forgotten about the 2007 cryptosporidium outbreak, here's a reminder:
From June to December, 1,902 people across the state were confirmed to have been infected with the parasite that causes long-lasting, sometimes debilitating, diarrhea. The culprit? Recreational water venues.
Cryptosporidium lives in the intestines of infected animals and humans, according to the Utah Department of Health. During a bowel movement, millions of germs are released. Not only is the parasite found in water, it's also found in soil and food, as well as other surfaces contaminated with human or animal feces. If people swallow the parasite, they become infected.
The parasite is hard to kill because it is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time. It's highly resistant to chlorine, so while experts have taken every precaution to protect the water by hyper-chlorinating, it's also the public's responsibility to help make sure the disease doesn't strike again.
"Summer always brings risks of water-borne diseases," said Weber-Morgan Health Department public information officer Lori Buttars. "Swimmers need to remember the Crypto outbreak of '07 and remember to take frequent bathroom breaks and put their kids in swim diapers and plastic pants."
Buttars said handwashing with soap and water after using the toilet, after changing a diaper and before eating or preparing food can cut the risk. People with diarrhea should not swim in public pools for at least two weeks after the infection clears up. Parents should always take their children to the restroom to change their diapers and avoid doing so poolside. People should also avoid swallowing pool water.
While cryptosporidium made headlines in 2007, there are other water-borne, summertime illnesses to be aware of, Buttars said, including giardia and E. coli.
"People need to be cautious about drinking from a hose and make certain that it's culinary water if they do," she said. "It's also important to make sure their secondary water sources have back-flow protection so the two water sources don't mix and spread into their neighborhood culinary water systems."
Buttars said new home owners should especially check out their secondary water sources for potential problems. If you are filling a kiddie pool with secondary water, tell your children not to swallow the water and to wash their hands with soap before they eat.
Symptoms of all three diseases include dehydration, weight loss, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.