A total of 11 cases of cryptospiridium infection have been reported across the Vale of Glamorgan in 2017 – most of them, inspectors say, arising from the use of local public swimming pools.
Cryptosporidiosis is an infection which can cause symptoms such as profuse watery diarrhoea and cramping abdominal pain and the infection is most commonly associated with young children up to the age of 5.
A report by “Shared Regulatory Services” [the joint unit which carries out a number of food safety and hygiene public services in Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan] says the disease has several modes of transmission – including “person-to-person spread and bathing in contaminated water sources including swimming pools. ”
The specific swimming pools in the Vale which may have been the sources of cryptospiridium infection have not been named in the report.
The document indicates that many pool staff just don’t know enough about the specific equipment they are operating – and don’t know the correct procedures for preventing infection.
Inspectors arrived unannounced at a total 13 swimming pools in the Vale of Glamorgan, 9 in Bridgend and 22 in Cardiff . They wanted to find out whether the staff running the pools were doing their job properly.
- The Inspectors found that although pool staff had attended training courses “knowledge about their own pool plant system and internal procedures was often lacking.”
- Across the board, large proportion of so-called ‘Normal Operating Procedures’ were too generalised and failed to give staff specific detailed instructions on how to properly operate the varying kinds of equipment installed at each of the venues.
- A number of pools were using the incorrect procedure for dealing with diarrhoea incidents because of a “lack of knowledge about their individual filter specifications.
- The inspectors found there were “fluctuating chemical test results” and the corrective actions being carried out by the staff “reaffirmed a lack of knowledge” about the equipment at their pool .
- The inspectors found many pools failed to provide any information to pool users about not using the facility if they had had diarrhoea within the last 48 hours. Very few pools advised pool users not to swim if they had been diagnosed with Cryptosporidium and had symptoms within the last 14 days.
During the inspectors’ unannounced visits, one pool and one “spa pool” had to be closed because of low temperatures and low chlorine levels in the water. [Chlorine is the disinfectant used to kill bacteria in swimming pools]
The illness Cryptosporidiosis spreads via “oocysts”, which appear in faeces at the onset of symptoms and can continue to be excreted for several weeks – even after symptoms have subsided. The report says “the main problem with oocysts is their ability to be highly resistant to chemical disinfectants; including chlorine.”