Think Twice Before Swimming In a Public Pool This Summer

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Before rolling out your towel, slathering on some sunscreen and dipping your toes in that public pool that finally opened, try considering another option for summer fun.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a report on a rise in infections caused by the bacteria Cryptosporidium, as well as a report that detailed what kinds of injury can occur from inhaling chlorine gas. Both reports were published in the CDC’s journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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The bacteria, known as Crypto, causes watery diarrhea in those affected and is already considered to be the leading cause for water-associated outbreaks, particularly for aquatic facilities, the CDC said in the first report. Fifty-four percent of states reporting to the CDC had at least 32 Crypto outbreaks in 2016, on the rise from 16 outbreaks in 2014.

The report focused on outbreaks in aquatic facilities within the states of Alabama, Arizona and Ohio. The outbreak in Alabama focused on a report of 35 individuals who experienced gastrointestinal issues after visiting an aquatic facility.

The Arizona outbreak analyzed a group of 36 people who fell ill six to seven days after visiting an aquatic facility. Ohio reported an average of 399 cases in 2015, increasing to 1,940 cases in 2016.

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The CDC said that it recommends pools to close completely since Crypto can survive for days, even with facilities that have regular chlorine levels. The report focused on educating small children about making sure they’re taking the necessary steps before swimming.

Cryptosporidium bacteria.

“Young swimmers aged less than five 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,” the report said. “The key healthy swimming message to the public to prevent contamination is ‘Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.’”

The second report investigated the leading reasons behind toxic chlorine gas releases and how they have negative health impacts on swimmers and staff members at aquatic facilities. The report’s main focus was analyzing a toxic chlorine gas release at a California water park where 34 swimmers began to experience vomiting, coughing and eye irritation.

The report said human error and machine malfunctions were the reason behind a dispersion of chemicals while the pools’ recirculation pumps were deactivated, resulting in toxic chlorine gas. The CDC recommended that following regulations could prevent future toxic gas releases.

“Toxic chlorine gas releases at public aquatic venues can be prevented by regular testing of chemical control failsafe features, proper training of aquatic facility staff members, and by following standardized policies and procedures, including evacuating bathers from the pool before a recirculation pump is restarted,” the report said. “State or local jurisdictions can voluntarily use CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code as a resource and guide of standardized, evidence-based regulations designed to prevent injuries and illness at public aquatic venues.”

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Tori Linville

Tori Linville is a freelance writer and editor from Clarksville, Tennessee. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s faithfully watching her alma mater, the University of Alabama, dominate the football field.