People swimming at MHS pool possibly exposed to diarrhea-causing parasite

People who swam in the Middleton High School pool during an 11-day period in February might have been exposed to a parasite.

Public Health Madison & Dane County said it received a confirmed report of a Cryptosporidiosis infection in a person who swam in the Middleton High School pool.

“This isn’t an outbreak at the pool,” Beth Cleary, PHMDC Environmental Health supervisor, said. “It’s just a notice to be aware and to remind people not to swim in the pool when they have diarrhea.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, is a microscopic parasite that causes the disease cryptosporidiosis, which causes diarrhea. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection, the CDC said.

“Crypto could still be living in well-maintained pool water because chlorine does not kill crypto in the water immediately,” Cleary said.

PHMDC said in a notice on Feb. 22 that anyone who swam in the Middleton High School pool between Feb. 8 and Feb. 19 might have been exposed to Crypto. The infection can occur if someone swallows water, even a small amount, from a pool where a person with Crypto swam.

During the 11-day period, the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District said students, the community and competitors used the pool.

“The biggest thing that took place there during that time period was we held a Division I Sectional diving and swimming meet involving, I believe, eight to 10 teams, so about 400 athletes,” district communications director Perry Hibner said. “So we notified each school about the fact that something may have happened and that they should be aware of it.”

The district has posted a notice where people sign in to use the pool and said it will stay up until March 10.

Health officials said no one else has come forward with symptoms.

Anyone who experienced diarrhea might want to consult a health care provider for a diagnosis and let the provider know about the potential exposure to Crypto.

The most common symptom is mild to profuse diarrhea, along with nausea, vomiting and cramping, PHMDC said. Fever can also accompany the symptoms.

Health officials asked that anyone who has experienced the symptoms associated with Crypto in the last 14 days not to use the pools.

Anyone with questions can contact the Public Health Nurse Help Line at 608-266-4821.