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Waterborne Illness is caused by a pathogenic microorganism that most commonly transmitted in contaminated water.

The Waterborne illness is invisible threats lurking in pools, water parks, and lakes ruin your summer. Recreational water illnesses (RWIs), such as Crypto and Giardia, are most prevalent in the US during May through October. 

The most common symptom of these two frequently parasites is diarrhea. The leading cost of death among children is due to diarrhea also.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 750,000 cases of Crypto estimated each year in the US, a 300% increase over the past decade. The CDC also estimated 1.2 million cases of Giardia annually in the U.S.

Other types of waterborne illnesses:

  • Protozoa

  • Bacteria

  • Intestinal Parasites

  • Viruses

The Problem:

Swimming in properly chlorinated pools does not necessarily eliminate the risk of parasitic infections. An infected person can spread RWIs at alarming rates through swimming water, as a result leaving fellow swimmers sick with infectious diarrhea for weeks and sometimes even developing lasting gastrointestinal damage.

There’s also confusion and misinformation about Giardia and Crypto among parents and caregivers. Four in 10 think hand sanitizers can kill the parasites, which is not true. More than a third don’t know how their kid(s) can catch the parasite. And most caregivers (74%) are unclear on how long they need to keep their sick children out of the water. Less than a third know that the CDC/AAP swimming guidelines indicate that children infected with Crypto need to be out of the water for two weeks after symptoms have resolved. 

What You Can Do

  • Shower both before entering and after leaving a public swimming pool.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Avoid swallowing pool water while swimming.
  • Stay out of the pool until at least two weeks after diarrhea subsides
  • See a doctor promptly if you develop symptoms. Over-the-counter medications offer limited support if you’re infected with these parasites.
  • Drink safe and clean water


The good news is doctors can prescribe an FDA-approved treatment—for adults and for children—for diarrhea caused by parasites. Therefore a simple swim doesn’t have to lead to days of discomfort if everyone takes proper precautions.