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July 17, 2007: University Pool in Pennsylvania Closed After 28 People Become Ill

The Chester County (Pennsylvania) Department of Health closed a pool located at West Chester University after swimmers and pool staffers became ill with gastrointestinal symptoms. According to the health department, the illnesses may be the result of contact with Cryptosporidium, Giardia or norovirus.

A 3-year-old who swam at the pool has tested positive for the parasite, Cryptosporidium, while another child has Giardia, both of which are parasites spread by water contaminated by human or animal feces. The health department official said pool water also has been found to contain norovirus.

The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis, the illness caused by Cryptosporidium, is watery diarrhea, but an infected individual may also experience stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, fever, dehydration and weight loss.

The director of personal health services for the Chester County Department of Health, Betsy Wells, said that it is more common to encounter these parasites in lakes and ponds, but that they can be found in pools as well. “Parasites are a lot harder to kill off and much heavier chlorination is needed for a longer period of time and nobody in the pool,” she said.

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