Public pools can be nasty and can make you sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned.
The CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that between 2014 and 2016, the number of people who have contracted a parasitic diarrhea-causing infection from swimming pools and water playgrounds in the U.S. has doubled.
“Cryptosporidium is a germ that can make people sick with diarrhea for up to three weeks,” Michele Hlavsa, head of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, told CNN. The parasite, also called crypto, is spread through contact with the feces of an infected person. It causes symptoms such as watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration.
There were 16 outbreaks of crypto caused by tainted swimming pools or water playgrounds in the U.S. in 2015. That number jumped to 32 in 2016. Last year, nearly 2,000 people were sickened from the parasite in Ohio alone. (States are not required to report cases of crypto so the CDC does not collect them.)
To help reduce the risk of infection, parents and caregivers are advised to encourage children not to swallow the pool water while swimming. Kids should also be taken for bathroom breaks every hour, and diapers should be checked in diaper-changing areas and not next to the pool.
A single bowel movement can release millions of cryptosporidium parasites, which can spread rampant in swimming pools and water playgrounds. And since crypto is also extremely hard to kill with normal levels of chlorine, it even more important for parents to keep children with diarrhea out of the water.