Hello Missy; The most common risk I have found for those with suppressed immune systems in public swimming pools is Crypto and (most recently) West Nile Virus.
Crypto is a germ that causes diarrhea. Crypto, short for Cryptosporidium, is found in infected people’s stool and cannot be seen by the naked eye. This germ is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive for long periods of time and makes it resistant to chlorine disinfection.
If I have a compromised immune system, why should I be concerned about Crypto?
The risk of developing severe disease may differ depending on each person’s degree of immune suppression. For most people living with a compromised immune system, Crypto can be serious, long-lasting, and sometimes fatal.
If your CD4+ cell count is below 200/µl, Crypto is more likely to cause diarrhea and other symptoms for a long period of time. If your CD4+ count is above 200/µl, your illness may not last more than 1 to 3 weeks, or slightly longer.
Even after the diarrhea stops you could still carry the infection, which means that the Crypto germs are living in your intestine, but are not causing illness. As a carrier of Crypto, you could infect other people. Later, if your CD4+ count drops below 200/µl, your symptoms may reappear.
How can I protect myself from Crypto?
You can reduce your risk of getting Crypto. These steps will also help protect you against other diseases. Consult with your health care provider to determine whether your medical condition makes it advisable to follow all of these recommendations.
Drink “safe” water*.
Wash your hands often.
Practice safer sex.
Avoid touching farm animals.
Avoid touching the stool of pets.
Avoid swallowing water when swimming in the ocean, lakes, rivers, or pools, and when using hot tubs.
Wash and/or thoroughly cook your food.
The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus common in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East. It was first seen in the eastern United States in the summer of 1999.Nearly 3,000 human cases of the West Nile virus have been reported this year, with nearly one-third of them in Colorado. Nationwide, the death toll is 54. The only states without a single human case of West Nile are Oregon and Nevada as of Sept. 11, 2003.Many people who are infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms. Others may experience mild symptoms, such as low-grade fever, headache and body aches, skin rash or swollen lymph nodes, within three to 15 days. In some people, particularly the elderly, children or people with weak immune systems, the virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain tissue), which can result in permanent neurological damage and, in rare cases, death. Encephalitis symptoms include the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, muscle weakness and coma. Some at-risk cities spray pesticides to reduce mosquito populations. In areas where the virus has been found, people should take the following precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes:
From April to October, minimize time spent outdoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin and clothing, according to manufacturer?s directions. Repellent may irritate the eyes and mouth so avoid applying it to the hands of children.
Make sure that doors and windows having tight-fitting screens.
Remove water-holding containers from your property, such as discarded tires, tin cans, ceramic pots and plastic containers to eliminate standing water, which serves as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.
Drain water from pool covers and keep pools and hot tubs cleaned and chlorinated.
I hope that this has been helpful to you. Let me know is you need any more information!
Peace and Blessings