Cryptosporidium Primer

Image courtesy of the CDC - 3D rendering of Cryptosporidium cysts with the organisms inside

What is it?

The CDC describes Cryptosporidum as:

...a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Crypto.”

There are many species of Cryptosporidium that infect animals, some of which also infect humans. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection.


Again according to the CDC, "...water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common way to spread the parasite. Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States."

A "crypto" outbreak at your facility can lead to unpleasant patron illnesses and ultimately to the closure of your facility until the parasite can be controlled and removed.  The temporary closure of your facility can impact your operation in many ways, from budgets to public opinion.  Pre-emptive measures (from mechanical to operations) are the keys to avoiding the impacts of an outbreak.


It is important to understand that chlorine is effective in combatting, but not in eliminating, cryptosporidium.  Low-pressure UV systems, like these from ChlorKing, have proven effective in inactivating the parasites and providing clean water. 


The single best way to ensure your facility doesn't experience a crypto outbreak is to prevent crypto from entering your water.  Since crypto is spread via fecal matter, having policies and preventative measures in place to speak specifically to this root cause are imperative.  Everything from mandatory showers to announced bathroom breaks should be in your prevention toolkit.


  • Install/increase signage about the importance of showering (and washing hands) in your changing rooms, bathroom stalls, on your pool deck, and in your public address system announcements. 
  • Train and empower your staff to insist that patrons shower before entering the pool.
  • Install clocks (and signage) above bathroom sinks so patrons can time themselves washing their hands for :20 seconds.
  • Hold hourly "Potty Patrol" walks around kiddie pools to remind parents that bathroom breaks might be needed.
  • Have your team award gold stickers to kids who wash their hands (and shower off again) after returning from the bathroom.


CDC PDF flyer - Facts About Crypto And Swimming Pools (link here)

New Mexico's Dept. of Health PDF - Crypto Facts For Pool Operators (link here)

Lifehacker Article (your patrons might be reading this!!) - How to Avoid Getting Sick From A Public Pool (link here)



Give our team a call at 800.426.9460 for additional information and guidance.