ST PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Health officials have issued a warning for the public to take precaution in swimming pools and water playgrounds because of the risk of a parasite that can easily spread.

Cryptosporidiosis, also known as Crypto, is a parasitic infection linked to swimming pools and water playgrounds, and is often spread when people come into contact with hands, objects, or water contaminated with diarrhea, including chlorinated swimming pools.

Because the parasite is not easily killed by chlorine and can last up to 10 days, Crypto can be spread throughout households, child care facilities, swimming pools, water parks and water playgrounds, according to the Pinellas County Health Department.

Crypto can cause a person to be sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, a slight fever, and in some cases, dehydration.

In 2014, more than 200 cases of Crypto were reported in Pinellas County, according to the Pinellas County Health Department.

Residents and visitors are advised to practice proper hand hygiene and avoid swimming pools, water playgrounds and water parks if you are ill with diarrhea. Those who are sick with a diarrheal illness should wait at least two weeks after they have recovered before visiting a public area where they will be exposed to water.

Parents and caregivers should also follow these steps to avoid pool


* Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers often.

* Change diapers in a bathroom and not at the poolside as germs can spread to

surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness.

* Shower before entering the water.

* Wash their hands with soap and water after changing a child's diaper.

Those concerned about their symptoms should contact their health care provider.