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Yuck: Poop Parasite Outbreaks in Public Pools Are on the Rise

The CDC reports that outbreaks of waste-borne parasites in pools have increased in recent years, and it's calling on parents to help put a stop to the trend.

Kids Splashing In Pool sakkmesterke/Shutterstock
Unfortunately, you'll need to add something else to your list of potential pool dangers this summer, parents. According to federal officials, people who swim in public pools or go to water parks before they have recovered from diarrhea (or even while they are still sick!) are spreading waste-borne parasites in increasing numbers. Go ahead; I'll give you a moment to gag.

NBC News reports that outbreaks of cryptosporidium doubled between 2014 and 2016. The Centers for Disease Control cite 32 outbreaks that were reported in 2016, versus 16 outbreaks in 2014 and just 13 in 2013.

Just wait; it gets grosser.

The CDC says that in Arizona last summer, 36 out of 51 Little League players and their families got sick from one pool, and at least 17 percent admitted they swam while still suffering from diarrhea symptoms.

"The parasite can spread when people swallow something that has come into contact with the feces (poop) of a sick person, such as pool water contaminated with diarrhea," said the CDC in a statement. "Crypto is the most common cause of diarrheal illness and outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds because it is not easily killed by chlorine and can survive up to 10 days in properly treated water."

Yes, properly treated water! And no, that's not all.

"Swallowing just a mouthful of water contaminated with Crypto can make otherwise healthy people sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration," the CDC said.

Parents should know that according to the statement, "Young swimmers aged under 5 years are more likely to contaminate the water because they are more likely to have inadequate toilet­ing and hygiene skills; therefore, prevention efforts should focus on their parents."

It's recommended that you wait two weeks after you or your child is symptomatic to swim again. And it is also advised that all swimmers shower and use soap before entering a pool, as cleaning up with toilet paper is not enough.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.