Benson pool reopens Monday

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Benson’s outdoor swimming pool was open Monday and packed with children swimming, diving, getting drenched by waterfalls, and going down the giant slide.

Monday the pool cleared all of the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) requirements for addressing the potential for cryptosporidium having entered the pool.

Benson’s outdoor swimming pool was closed Thursday after the city received a call from the MDH saying an individual suspected of being involved in a cryptosporidium outbreak in the Twin Cities had been in the pool.

“We have no confirmation that it (the parasite) is there, but because it is a potential risk the city decided, along with my input, to close the pool as a precautionary measure, and to go ahead and disinfect,” Suzanne Paulson with Countryside Public Health’s environmental health department, said Friday.

Countryside Public Health is the public health agency that serves Swift, Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Big Stone and Lac qui Parle counties. It has oversight of the health conditions of the outdoor public pools in the five counties.

“Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as ‘crypto.’

“There are many species of cryptosporidium that infect animals, some of which also infect humans. 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.

“While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common way to spread the parasite. Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States,” the CDC says.

The City of Benson started working on super chlorinating the water Thursday. “That is the reason the pool has to be closed,” Paulson said. “The city is going to have to bring the chlorine level up so high that it won’t be safe for people to be in the water. They have to bring it up super high and hold it at that high concentration for a number of hours to kill this parasite.”

City Manager Rob Wolfington said Friday that the pool’s chlorine level had to be brought up to 20 parts per million for 28 hours. After that phase was complete, the levels of chlorine had to be brought down below 10 parts per million for 10 consecutive hours before the pool could reopen, he said.

Friday afternoon that target of 20 parts per million was reached, but the city was having some difficulty in maintaining it due to warm air temperatures, Wolfington said. However, the problems were worked out and city staff were able to maintain the chlorine levels as required through the weekend. They then tested the pool as they brought the levels back down below 10 parts per million clearing that threshold Monday ahead of the reopening of the pool.



Symptoms of Crypto generally begin two to 10 days (average 7 days) after becoming infected with the parasite, the CDC says. The most common symptom is a watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include:

- Stomach cramps or pain

- Dehydration

- Nausea

- Vomiting

- Fever

- Weight loss

Some people with Crypto will have no symptoms at all.

Symptoms usually last about one to two weeks (with a range of a few days to four or more weeks) in persons with healthy immune systems, the CDC says. Occasionally, people may experience a recurrence of symptoms after a brief period of recovery before the illness ends. Symptoms can come and go for up to 30 days.

People with weakened immune systems may develop serious, chronic, and sometimes fatal illness.


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