Happy Summer: Parasite Infections Spread by Pool Poop Have Doubled

And one in four adults say they'd swim one hour after getting diarrhea.
May 19, 2017, 6:13pm
Photo via Flickr user N i c o l a

Here's some fun news to ring in the start of summer: According to a new survey from the Water Quality and Health Council, one in four adults admit that they would have no problem jumping into a swimming pool an hour after having diarrhea, CBS Miami reports.

Not only is the practice just a little unnerving, it's also a major public health risk. On Thursday, the CDC said it's seen twice as many cases of people getting sick from the Cryptosporidium parasite—which travels via poop—in 2016 than in 2014. The parasite is a regular at public swimming pools and water parks because it's extremely difficult to kill—Crypto can survive for up to ten days in chlorinated water.

"Just a small number of Crypto germs can make someone sick," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC's Healthy Swimming program, said. "That's why it is important to keep Crypto out of the water in the first place."

On top of that whole diarrhea thing, the Water Quality survey found that more than half of adults don't shower before they swim, and 60 percent regularly swallow pool water. Pair that statistic with the number of people who swim after getting the runs and one can understand why there's been an increase in Crypto infections.

"Normal chlorine disinfection of swimming pool water does a great job in destroying most germs, but Crypto presents a special challenge," Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality and Health Council, said. "Showering before swimming, refraining from peeing in the pool, and not swimming for two weeks after experiencing diarrhea can help keep swimming fun and healthy for everyone from 'water babies' to seniors."

The Water Quality survey comes right off the heels of another recent study that estimated that there's roughly 20 gallons of pee in most standard-size swimming pools, which is even more evidence that it might be best to interact with water from the safety of a human-sized plastic bubble.