During session two (June 18-29, 2007) of West Chester University’s Golden Ram swim lessons held at the Graham Natatorium on South Campus, the Chester County Board of Health detected the bacteria in the pool area. Many illnesses found in local children and families both symptomatic and asymptomatic were traced back to the Natatorium.Cryptosporidium is a microscopic gastrointestinal parasite which usually passes through the infected persons G.I. tract or stool. It is a coated “bug;” therefore it is highly chlorine resistant. Some common symptoms are nausea and diarrhea.
Dr. Matthew Bricketto, Vice President for Student Affairs, released a letter informing about and apologizing for the inconvenience of the parasite.
According to Bricketto, how and when the parasite entered the pool is not known; however, those infected had all been in the Natatorium.
The South Campus pool is not the only place “bugs” such as Cryptosporidium were located. Many pools in the surrounding area, such as Audubon and Limerick, have been closed due to similar outbreaks.
According to the University, on June 28, the Graham Natatorium experienced a brief filter failure linked directly to a short power outage as a result of a heavy storm the previous evening. Although the filter was not immediately re-started, surplus amounts of chlorine were added, and the pool was deemed suitable by management to continue with lessons.
Despite the lesson management’s and pool staff’s efforts to continue the lessons, the Chester County Health Department confirmed an outbreak. Telephone calls, letters and ad e-mail addresses obtained through lesson registration allowed more than 1,850 families to be made aware of the situation immediately.
According to Bricketto’s letter on behalf of the University, the prevention against everything like this ever happening again is not but taken lightly. Many increased measures to protect the health of all present and future swimmers at the Graham Natatorium have been taken. The number of staff with pool management knowledge was increased and an outside company is now linked to the pool in case a quick “on-call” service is ever needed. All pool- related pumps have been equipped with an alarm system to ensure immediate notification of any possible problems to pool management.
The filters will be cleaned more frequently during the greatest pool usage, and the water will be tested at least twice more than the state requirement.
Before re-opening, the pool was equipped with ultraviolet lighting with a germicidal system, ensuring the promise of fighting the growth of organisms such as Cryptosporidium in and around the pool facility.
Because such “bugs” are carried through stool, the diaper changing in the locker-room areas will be limited’ and locker-room cleaning services will be increased.
For more than two decades, Golden Ram Swim Lessons, led by swim coach James Rudisill, has taught thousands of children water safety and improved skills.
According to teachers and instructors who aid the students throughout lessons, confidence in the water is given to a myriad of parents whose children repeatedly pass levels and continue to come back to the WCU’s Graham Natatorium to obtain more swim instruction.
Many of the children who take lessons can benefit their current and future team memberships to this program.
According to West Chester University, the outbreak experienced this past summer will not be repeated and swim lessons will continue with the same goals as before to successfully aid in safety and knowledge in and around the water.