County gets serious about crypto
May 9, 2008
With summer finally on its way, Summit County pools are preparing to welcome kids and parents alike. But they are also making big changes to make sure germs and bacteria are kept out.
After Utah suffered the largest reported recreational water outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in U.S. history last summer, Summit County officials have decided that, this summer, they don’t want to take any chances. Although Summit County accounted for only a handful of the 1,900 reported cases in the state, area recreational administrators have decided that prevention will be their best weapon this summer.
"All the pools in Summit County are trying to be ahead of the game this year," said Todd Klarich, aquatics director at the Park City Aquatic Center at Ecker Hill.
Cryptosporidiosis, or "crypto," as it is commonly called, is a disease caused by a parasite. It causes diarrhea, stomach cramping and fever, although, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other people may not have symptoms and just act as carriers.
In an effort to keep Summit County crypto-free, all pool administrators have decided to follow the guidelines issued by the Utah State Department of Health and have made other changes to control the problem.
One of the biggest changes is in swimwear for babies. All children still in diapers will now be required to wear swim diapers underneath a rubber swim pant that has tight elastic at the leg and stomach. The pants range from $5.50 to $10 and are available at the Park City Racquet Club Pro Shop, the Aquatic Center at Ecker Hill and the South Summit Aquatic and Fitness Center (SSAFC). They may be carried at the Coalville Pool in the summer. The pants are washable and reusable.
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"It’s very different from a swim diaper," Park City recreation coordinator Karen Yocum said. "But it will keep anything in."
In addition, a number of hygiene rules set forth by the state and county will now be strictly enforced.
These guidelines include:
Do not swim if you have diarrhea. Wait two weeks after diarrhea has stopped before swimming. Take a cleansing shower before swimming. Do not swallow pool water or get pool water into your mouth. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing a diaper. Take regular bathroom breaks while swimming. Change diapers often. Change diapers in the bathroom, not at poolside Wash your child’s bottom with soap and water after changing a diaper and then wash your hands with soap and water.
SSAFC aquatics director Judy Staples said that she has been trying to enforce many of these rules for many years at South Summit pools. The SSAFC has always been particularly strict about the pre-swim shower, requiring at least a water-only shower, and the other pools said they will start tightly enforcing the rule as well. Yocum said that they can’t enforce a soap shower, but everyone must at least rinse off before entering any pools. The SSAFC has been proactive against crypto since last year. They didn’t allow children under the age of five after late summer when the state mandated it. They started selling the rubber swim pants immediately and have enforced all of the restrictions even though it was only recommended to do so in Summit County.
Staples also said that it is more than just a problem with babies, younger children can also have accidents and adults can bring in the disease if they have had diarrhea recently.
The pools plan to post signs of the changes. Because it is a big departure from old practices, Yocum said that parents of children in beginner and parent-tot swim lessons, which begin next Tuesday at the Park City Racquet Club, will be called and alerted of the changes. Warnings are posted on the swim registration Web site and have also been issued on all swim lesson receipts. The Racquet Club has also decided that no children with diapers will be allowed in the lap pool. North Summit School District Superintendent Steve Carlsen said that another important facet to curbing an outbreak, besides posting signs, is making sure that the pool staff knows the policies and their importance and consistently and firmly informs patrons.
To sanitize the water, Yocum will do a super chlorination every Friday night to "shock" the pools and remove as much bacteria as possible. This procedure needs at least eight hours to settle so the high levels of chlorine don’t affect swimmers. SSAFC will do the same on Sundays when the pool is closed. Klarich said that the Ecker Hill pool will be updated with an ozone filtration system that works in conjunction with chlorine to make it more effective without increasing the amount of chlorine. SSAFC already has an ozone system.
A regularly chlorinated pool will not kill crypto, so chlorine shocks, ozonators and UV must be used to eradicate any problems. Without the UV process, it can take up to 24 hours to clean a pool after an outbreak. SSAFC director Steve Sutherland said that with the amount of people that come to swim in the summer — double the number during the rest of the year — they would be shut down for most of the summer. SSAFC will lead the charge in the county after receiving approval from the South Summit School Board on Thursday to install a UV filtration system. The system is ideal for dealing with crypto and other diseases as it kills up to 99 percent of all bacteria, but it has yet to become the norm because it also comes with an $112,000 price tag. Sutherland isn’t sure yet when the UV system will be installed. They will need to find a contractor first. Many are already installing the same system throughout the state. Sutherland says that they average between four and six fecal accidents a week, so the filtration system will be a great asset.
Although, the new restrictions may seem extreme to some, Sutherland said the community’s health is the bottom line.
"When we didn’t allow little kids last year it hurt us financially, but that’s not our main concern," Sutherland said. "It’s the health of our community."
The Park City Racquet Club is only open for lap swimming currently, 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon- 5 p.m. on the weekends. A coached swim workout is held in the lap pool from noon-1 p.m. The recreation/leisure pool will open the weekend of May 24 and will open again the following weekend. Summer hours begin June 7. The Park City Aquatic Center at Ecker Hill will begin morning swim lessons and summer hours on June 5.
The SSAFC will start summer hours May 31. The pool will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.
The Coalville pool is currently closed for a massive remodel. The grand reopening is projected for May 29. The remodel includes new locker rooms, offices, entryways and updates to the pool. The summer hours will be 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.