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Parasitic Infections Caused By Swimming Pools On The Rise

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People should be careful when swimming in public pools, as the number of infection caused by a parasite linked to pools and water playgrounds has increased dramatically between 2014 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC released the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Thursday, which detailed how diarrhea-causing infections due to pool water have doubled in the past two years, CNN reports. Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, said, “Cryptosporidium is a germ that can make people sick with diarrhea for up to three weeks.”

Also called crypto, the parasites spreads when a person comes into contact with the feces of an infected person.

In 2016, 32 outbreaks linked to swimming pools were reported to the CDC, compared to just 16 in 2014. In Ohio alone, close to 2,000 people fell ill due to crypto last year. Since states are not mandated to keep track of patient numbers, the CDC does not have the totals.

Symptoms of infection include diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting, which may all lead to dehydration.

Hlavsa cautioned,

Parents can encourage their children not to swallow the water when swimming.

Swallowing just one mouthful of contaminated water might already cause infection. Also, parents should avoid buying water toys that might encourage kids to swallow pool water, like plastic cups.

Hlavsa said, “Also, take kids on bathroom breaks every hour, and check diapers in a diaper-changing area and not right next to the pool. We all share the water we swim in, but we don’t want to share germs, pee or poop.”

Crypto is a major cause of diarrhea in infants and toddlers in developing countries, but has also affected Europe and North America. The parasite may also dwell in private wells, sewage overflows, polluted storm water and agricultural runoffs.

“We all share the water we swim in, but we don’t want to share germs, pee or poop,” Hlavsa said. “Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover from Crypto without treatment.”

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