by Ruth Orr
WALSENBURG- Walsenburg Wild Waters closed on Friday the 5th after a cryptosporidium scare. The disease is generally spread through swimming pools, since standard levels of chlorination aren’t enough to kill the parasite. Symptoms may include diarrhea and abdominal cramping that can last up to two weeks.
Five Puebloans and three Walsenburg residents (ranging in ages from 4-36 years old) have tested positive for cryptosporidium after visiting the park, but none have needed hospitalization. All ill persons report swimming at the pool on July 24, and they all reported the onset of their syptoms on July 30. The pool has been cooperating with authorities for public health. According to the pool’s manager, Jennie Sims, none of the water in the pool has tested positive. Despite the negative readings, the park took the advice of the Las Animas-Huerfano Health Department and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and superchlorinated the pool while it was closed on Friday. While a normal dose of chlorine in a pool is 5 parts per million, the ratio was increased to 20 parts per million. By the time the pool reopened Saturday morning, the chlorine levels were back to normal.
The Las Animas-Huerfano Counties Distric Health Department encourages the communities of both counties to practice the six steps for healthy swimming:
• Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
• Don’t swallow pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
• Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
• Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear ‘I have to go” may mean that it’s too late.
• Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area, and not at the poolside. Germs can be spread in and around the pool.
•Thouroughly wash your child (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming. Invisible amounts of fecal matter can end up in the pool.
Sims wants to reassure the public that the park is open for business. “The water is safe by all Health Department standards, so come back to the pool if you’re not sick.”
The park and city are not being criticized for the outbreak. City policies and procedures have been deemed acceptable, and it is thought that the original contamination stemmed from an individual who was already sick.
Wins over 20 awards at the annual Colorado Press Association convention, including General Excellence for the second year in a row World Journal Staff Report