Aug 6, 2011 3:01 PM by Andy Koen

Warnings posted at 41 pools in Pueblo after parasite outbreak

The Pueblo City-County Health Department is taking a waterborne parasite outbreak very seriously. They're posting warnings at every pool in the county, including public parks, hotels and gyms, all to warn residents about an outbreak of Cryptosporidium or "Crypto" for short.

The illness spreads through water and causes severe diarrhea and abdominal cramping that can last for 1-2 weeks.

Heather Maio, the department's director of environmental health, says her office learned of the outbreak after a small group of Pueblo residents reported symptoms. They were able to trace their various infections back to the Walsenburg Wild Waters pool.

Maio is concerned that there will be a flood of new cases in the coming weeks because not everyone who contracted the parasite went to the doctor or reported their symptoms to the health department.

If they had, Maio says they would have been warned to stay away from the water for at least two weeks after the symptoms pass.

"As soon as you're well, that doesn't mean that you should go back swimming right away," Maio said. "You need to wait the two weeks."

The health department is asking everyone who operates a public pool to hyper-chlorinate their water at least once a week until the outbreak is contained.

Maio is also posting warning signs that encourage the public to follow basic hygiene protocols such as showering with soap before entering the water, never swallowing pool water and always washing hands after using the restroom or changing a child's diaper.

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