Late Summer Pool Safety: Remain Vigilant to Prevent Illness

August 16, 2019

Media Contact: VDH Risk Communications Manager Lorrie Andrew-Spear,

(Fredericksburg, Va.)— While summer is almost over and many are enjoying time at a swimming pool, the Rappahannock Area Health District (RAHD) reminds all swimmers to follow good health practices at swimming pools to prevent illness. Recently, the Health District has been made aware of several cases of cryptosporidiosis involving swimming pools at the Massad YMCA and Curtis Park in Stafford County. Both facilities have been fully cooperative with the Health District and are following our recommendations.

Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic illness that mainly causes diarrhea. Other symptoms can include nausea and loss of appetite, abdominal pain and low-grade fever. People can become infected after ingesting food or water contaminated with the parasite. Swimming pools are not an uncommon site where patrons may be exposed to Cryptosporidium. Symptoms usually develop seven to ten days after exposure. In healthy people, cryptosporidiosis is typically a self-limited illness that clears up on its own without medication. It can be diagnosed by testing a stool sample. If patients need medication, an anti-parasitic drug can be prescribed.

Regarding the large pool at Curtis Park: if individuals swam in the pool between August 3 and August 16, 2019 and developed diarrhea, abdominal pain or nausea, the Health District advises that you contact your medical provider about this. We also ask you to contact Nicole Sullivan, MPH (RAHD Epidemiologist) at 540-290-2426.

Regarding the outdoor pools at the Massad YMCA: if individuals swam in either pool between August 1 and August 14, 2019 and developed diarrhea, abdominal pain or nausea, the Health District advises that you contact your medical provider. Please also contact Nicole Sullivan at the number above.

General public health advice for people with diarrhea

  • Do not use recreational water facilities (such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis, lakes, rivers, streams, oceans, etc.) until 2 weeks after the diarrhea stops. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Practice good and frequent handwashing (ex: after using the restroom, before and after handling food, after contact with diapers, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer does not kill cryptosporidium. Be sure to use soap and water for handwashing

Additional public health measures to avoid illness from recreational water use:

  • Do not swallow pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. All people going in to the pool are advised to shower with soap and water before and after swimming. Invisible amounts of fecal matter and germs on your body can end up in the pool. Also, be sure to wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear “I have to go” may mean it’s too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area and not at poolside because germs can be spread in and around the pool.

Keeping these tips in mind should help you enjoy the rest of swimming pool season safely and in good health!

For more information, call the Rappahannock Area Health District at 540-899-4797. You can also learn more by going to and clicking on the bar that says “Water Illnesses.”