October 17, 2021

Poop in Pools

A CDC study released last week found that feces are often introduced into public pool waters by swimmers. Scientists found E. coli bacteria in samples of pool filter water collected from public pools around the country. The study is presented in recognition of recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week, May 20-26, 2013. The goal of this week is to raise awareness about healthy swimming.

PoolThe study found that “58% ofthe pool water samples tested were positive for E. coli, bacteria normally found in the human gut and feces. The E. coli is a marker for fecal contamination.” This happens because swimmers have a “fecal incident” in the water or they don’t shower before getting into the pool.

On the plus side, none of the samples tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, the most dangerous strain of the bacteria that can cause serious illness, including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The study didn’t look at water parks or residential pools. But the CDC stated that “it is unlikely that swimmer-introduced contamination, or swimmer hygiene practices, differ between pools in the study and those in the rest of the country.”

The CDC recommends that all swimmers should shower with soap before getting into the water and take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes. Don’t swim when you have diarrhea and wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers. Do not swallow water you swim in.

In 2011, there was an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at Cowan’s Gap Park in Pennsylvania. Eighteen people were sickened in that outbreak. Ten people were hospitalized; some did develop HUS. THe report of that outbreak focused on diapered children in swimming waters.

Also last year, there were two outbreaks of Cryptosporidium at Minnesota water parks. That disease is caused by a parasite, also transmitted through fecal contamination.

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