Health & Wellness

Westfield Board of Health Discusses Contaminated Pool Water, Action Against Empanada Guy

The Westfield Board of Health asks residents to help prevent the spread cryptosporidium, a parasite shared by drinking contaminated pool water. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna

WESTFIELD, NJ – The Westfield Board of Health welcomed new members, discussed pool contamination and suggested a ban on certain street vendor at Monday night’s meeting.

The Westfield Board of Health recently hired Linda Brown as its new health officer. Brown, a professor of public health at Rutgers University, will assist the board in strategic planning and forming an online presence. A key example is spreading the word regarding cryptosporidium, also known as cryptosporidiosis or crypto.

“The CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recently warned of cryptosporidiosis in pool water,” Health Officer Megan Avallone said. “The chlorine in pool water doesn’t kill it. They say the average American will swim hours after having diarrhea. They don’t realize that’s a contaminant.”

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According to the CDC, cryptosporidium is on the rise and can make people ill with diarrhea for three weeks. The parasite spreads through contact with someone infected, especially by drinking contaminated water. A single mouthful is enough to cause infection, according to the CDC.

“More than half of Americans admit to drinking pool water, whether accidentally or not,” Avallone said. “It’s pretty clear the average parent doesn’t know that their child should not swim after diarrhea.”

Later on, the board agreed to ask the Westfield town attorney for legal advice in an attempt to block the Empanada Guy, a popular food truck vendor, from having his application approved for future street fairs.

“When we have vendors that are very problematic time and time again; I’d like to just not approve their application anymore,” Avallone said.

The Empanada Guy has been issued and ignored several warnings, according to Principal Registered Environmental Health Specialist Helen Mendez. The warnings included food being held at improper temperatures and improper reheating, she said.

Additionally, the board approved Resolution 10-2017, which appoints Nancy Merwede of Cranford as the new public nurse. She will primarily be used for the child health clinic and blood pressure screenings, Avallone said.

“She certainly qualifies and looks like she’ll be a good fit,” Avallone said.

The next Westfield Board of Health meeting will be held on Aug. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

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