Quick, name the largest documented Crypto outbreak in US History.
It was the Milwaukee (drinking water) outbreak of 1993. There were over 400,000 people affected (25% of Milwaukee's population). Sadly 69 people lost their lives (they had weakened immune systems per Milwaukee DOH), and many others became severely ill and/or had their immune systems compromised as a result of the parasite.
What about pools? In 2007 a large outbreak in Utah affected over 1,000 patrons over a two month period. While it originated in a few main pools, it quickly spread to other pools and sections of the state. Subsequent outbreaks in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and other states affected hundreds of unsuspecting patrons who were out for a good time.
While many of us have always been aware of the dangers of Crypto it seems like ALL of America is fully aware now, thanks to a recent media blitz by The Sun Sentinal, USA Today, CNN, Good Morning America and just about every newspaper and TV station in the land.
Why the sudden attention? It turns out the the Centers for Disease Control released a May report that the number of "outbreaks" had doubled between 2014 and 2016. That's doubled! Outbreaks doesn't mean number of people affected, it means a regional event where people are infected in a pool, go to another facility and spread the parasite. This process is assisted because it takes up to 2-weeks for the symptoms to show up, allowing plenty of time for spread of disease.
Each outbreak can have far reaching effects. Arizona brass identified 352 people sick with Crypto for July-October 2016 (a 460% increase over any one YEAR in their history), while Ohio identified 1,940 cases (a 240% increase over any one year in 2012-2015). This is not trending correctly, as the CDC and many Health Departments are working hard to REDUCE the number of outbreaks.
What the CDC notes as the "Best Way to Protect Yourself" as a bather or parent.....
- Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.
- If diarrhea is caused by Crypto, wait until two weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
- Don’t swallow the water in which you swim.
- Rinse off in the shower before getting in the water to help remove any germs on your body that could contaminate the water.
- Take kids on bathroom breaks often, and check diapers in a diaper-changing area and not right next to the pool.
But what about protecting yourself as an owner or operator of a pool?
Here are a few guidelines as established by CES and customer experiences, or from industry best practices.
- Take Control: Many CES customers have found it most important to take direct control over all the major parameters that could affect bather welfare and safety. Chemistry control is an obvious starting point and is a delicate minute-by-minute balance that changes with each bather, each click of the chemical feeder, and each unintended discharge of from human skin and organs. Manual introduction of chemicals, a fixed rate feed system, found in many facilities, or a 3-day a week pool service contract cannot possibly keep pace with the demands.
- Solution: Any of the affordable CES programs, starting at $69 per month, provides precise and reliable second by second control of all major water parameters so that you can be assured that the water is safe and code compliant.
- Stay Connected: Daily or periodic mechanical room supervision is a key component of pool operation, but it is not enough to protect the owner against mechanical mishaps that may cause the facility to stray out of compliance. Leading facilities have gravitated toward staying continually connected to their mechanical systems using CES’s Open Architecture Communications (OAC). It provides continual monitoring of all major mechanical parameters, permanent storage of pool readings, and a powerful alert notification program for any out-of-range parameter, so that the operators can resolve problems before they becomes a big customer satisfaction or liability issue. Low chlorine levels, left unchecked can cause unhealthy water, but can be quickly and easily resolved with OAC. Many CES operators stay in touch via email and text messages using smart phone app, tablets, or PC connections.
- Solution: CES’s no-cost monitoring programs are available on all control systems that have been installed since 2006 and while first viewed as a "nicety", it has evolved into an important cornerstone to a responsible pool operation, and has proven to help resolve countless issues over the past 12 years.
- Circulation and Drinking Water Filtration: At the heart of every successful pool application is a properly sized and balanced circulation and filtration system that can filter up to drinking water–grade specifications and that turns over the water in relation to the bathing load. The suction and discharge piping, distribution system, filter manifold and internals, and backwash systems are carefully engineered on a project-by-project basis.
- Solution: The proper acceleration of filtration rates is a standard feature in all CES-designed mechanical packages, often being maximized to the limits of the underground piping. Sizing is based on estimated (current and future) bathers per week, and this CES formula has experienced an 100% success rate over the past 30 years.
- UV or advanced oxidation treatment: Chlorine is a key component of any code-approved treatment package, but is quite limited in oxidation power. It cannot carry the full load of the tremendous oxidation requirements of a busy facility, and cannot provide relief against skin irritation and crypto issues. CES implements a wide array of advanced oxidation technologies, which are custom-designed for each swim school application. These can consist of ozone, UV, Amalgam UV, Saline, Peroxolytes, and other solutions.
- Solution: A properly sized medium pressure UV system is EPA-validated to inactivate 99.9% of all Crypto in a single pass. Does it absolutely prevent a sick person from infecting others in your pool? No! But it is a proactive strategy that provides a strong layer of protection by continually inactivating Crypto and other pathogens, in the full recirculation flow, every minute of every day. It is supported by CES service techs, and requires only periodic on-site maintenance.
- Follow new CDC guidelines: New 2016 CDC guidelines for treatment of fecal releases helped shine new light on a what was already the best practice for Florida-based operators -- where DOH mandated compliance to CDC guidelines years ago. What's new from CDC? For starters, the new guidelines recommend a maximum stabilizer level of 15 PPM - about 1/6th of the typical stabilizer level for many residential/commercial pool service companies. Why the low (15 PPM) level? CDC research uncovered that at higher levels, it would take many days of high (20+ PPM) treatment to properly (if at all) deactivate Crypto.
- Other Measures:
- New CRS™ additive targets Crypto: The popular Pulsar System, already the largest solid chlorination system in the industry, added a new wrinkle when it introduced the CRS (Crypto Remediation System). This is a filtration-based treatment that is an integral part of the new Pulsar 45, 140 and 500 feeder systems. It automatically doses a proven Crypto-capturing filter aid after each backwash, to put the filter in a 24/7 Crypto-capturing mode. In the event of a Crypto accident, the operator merely presses the "Code Brown" button on the controller face panel, and the system follows a proven regimen to help filter out the crypto remaining in the pool. Please contact us for more info on this great package.
- Enduro keep your bottom clean: The Enduro-TurboClean robotic vacuum is gaining National attention as a reliable and powerful pool cleaning system that NEVER really leaves the pool deck. Why? All repairs, maintenance, and adjustments are made on the pool deck, so it's always on duty. But recent studies from overseas indicate that the Enduro does much more than keep your bottom clean, Danish studies show a significant removal of stubborn biofilm not captured with manual vacuuming or normal brushing. This means less bacteria and less chance of the harboring of bacteria and diseases. Is it proven to kill Crypto (heck no), but it is just another proactive step to help keep your pool operation running at peak performance. Every bit helps.
All the media hoopla on Crypto will surely fade away in the near future, but the importance of developing a winning strategy to bulletproof your facility against this potential liability should not.
While water could look clear, inviting, and relatively harmless, it could possibly contain a host of dangerous bacteria and pathogens that can make a whole lot of people sick.... or even kill them. The added scrutiny of Crypto and other dangerous pathogens hopefully will shine a bright light on the need for facilities to invest in bather safety.
For years pool owners and operators have invested in fancy landscaping, a nice bar & restaurant, and nice deck chairs while many shunned investing in their antiquated mechanical systems. Soon adherence to the new MAHC (Model Aquatic Health Code) will encourage pool owners to update all "critical water" (including wading pools, IWF's, plunge pools, spas, and kiddie pools) with UV sterilization, and other proactive treatment devices, in order to provide better protection for their patrons and single pass inactivation of Crypto. Other facilities are adding UV on a proactive basis to help them protect their staff and patrons against the spread of disease "on their watch".
In any event, customers can follow each others' great examples by providing enhanced training, CDC protocol compliance, and eventual equipment upgrades in order to help stay out of the limelight.
Subconsciously many might want to become famous.... just not as the owner/operator of the epicenter of a large Crypto outbreak.