Disposable swim diaper retention of Cryptosporidium-sized particles on human subjects in a recreational water setting

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Cryptosporidium is a chlorine-resistant protozoan parasite responsible for the majority of waterborne disease outbreaks in recreational water venues in the USA. Swim diapers are commonly used by diaper-aged children participating in aquatic activities. This research was intended to evaluate disposable swim diapers for retaining 5-μm diameter polystyrene microspheres, which were used as non-infectious surrogates for Cryptosporidium oocysts. A hot tub recirculating water without a filter was used for this research. The microsphere concentration in the water was monitored at regular intervals following introduction of microspheres inside of a swim diaper while a human subject undertook normal swim/play activities. Microsphere concentrations in the bulk water showed that the majority (50–97%) of Cryptosporidium-sized particles were released from the swim diaper within 1 to 5 min regardless of the swim diaper type or configuration. After only 10 min of play, 77–100% of the microspheres had been released from all swim diapers tested. This research suggests that the swim diapers commonly used by diaper-aged children in swimming pools and other aquatic activities are of limited value in retaining Cryptosporidium-sized particles. Improved swim diaper solutions are necessary to efficiently retain pathogens and effectively safeguard public health in recreational water venues.

Keywords: cryptosporidiosis, Cryptosporidium, diarrhea, recreational water illnesses, swim diapers, swimming pools

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