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WRCC outdoor pool may have had parasite

The West River Community Center's outdoor pool was suspected to have a parasite before it closed for the season earlier this month, according to officials.

The West River Community Center's outdoor pool was suspected to have a parasite before it closed for the season earlier this month, according to officials.

The pool may have had cryptosporidium, said Kevin Pavlish, an environmental health practitioner with the Southwestern District Health Unit in Dickinson. But he added the winterization of the pool should solve the problem.

"It's waterborne, so it needs the water in order to survive. So being as there's no water there in those pools, plus the temperature over the winter months ... I'm not really real concerned," he said.

The parasite is spread through feces, and causes cryptosporidiosis, a diarrheal disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The North Dakota Department of Health has this year recorded 83 cases statewide of cryptosporidium, an increase from the average of 30 cases a year, epidemiologist Michelle Feist said.

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"So we are seeing an overall increase," she said, adding she didn't know why.

Eight of the reported cases swam at the WRCC outdoor pool, but some of them also swam elsewhere, so it's unclear where they contracted the parasite, Feist said.

The parasite can be tough to stop because chlorine doesn't kill it off, Pavlish said.

Dickinson Parks and Recreation Director James Kramer said his office heard from a few people who contracted the parasite after swimming in the pool.

Pavlish said the first reports of the parasite infecting a pool visitor came in early August. The pool closed for the season earlier this month.

Feist cautioned people who contracted the parasite to avoid swimming anywhere and to avoid preparing foods until they are rid of the disease.

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