CDC: Poop in Pools Is a Potential Health Problem

By Admin on May 17, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Everybody poops -- and it's showing up in public swimming pools, apparently.

That's right: There's poop in pools, and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not happy about it.

A CDC report shows that swimmers frequently introduce fecal material (i.e., poop) into pools, which can spread germs to other people, the researchers wrote.

During the course of the CDC study, researchers found a variety of bacteria in the pools they tested last summer.

The Bacteria

The researchers found genetic material from E. coli bacteria in 58% of the tested public pools. E. coli bacteria are ordinarily found in the human gut and feces. Rest assured, there were no samples that showed E. coli O157:H7, a toxin-producing E. coli strain that causes illness, reports LiveScience.

In 59% of pools, researchers also found genetic material from bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause skin rashes and ear infections, according to the CDC report.

Two parasites, Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which also spread through feces and cause diarrhea, were found in less than 2% of samples.

The Cause & the Solution

The fecal matter ended up in pools from people not showering before getting into the water.

The off-putting nitty-gritty statistic is that the average person has 0.14 grams of poop on their "perianal surface" -- the technical word for a person's nether regions -- that can rinse into a pool if a person doesn't shower first, according to the CDC report.

"Chlorine and other disinfectants dont kill germs instantly," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDCs Healthy Swimming Program.

One solution might be upping the amount of chemicals in the pool. However, that could come with its own risks since swimming pool chemicals injure thousands yearly.

Homeowners associations and landlords could get a lot of hot water over swimming pool injuries. For the benefit of everyone, they should protect swimmers by closing the pool when a major "accident" happens.

Do things differently this summer: Before the you-know-what hits the fan -- or pool, for that matter -- take precautions. Don't swallow the water you swim in, and avoid swimming when you have diarrhea. Above all, always make sure to shower before taking a dip. For little poopers, the CDC recommends parents take them for a potty break once every hour.

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