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ATLANTA, GA (CBS Local) – It’s almost summer and many people will be looking to jump into the nearest swimming pool, however the CDC is warning Americans that the water they’re diving into may not be so clean.
In the agency’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), CDC officials say that over 27,000 people have gotten sick because of water-related pathogens since 2000. Eight deaths were linked to illnesses which were most commonly found in hotel pools, hot tubs, and water parks.
What’s lurking in the water that’s getting so many people sick each summer?
The CDC found that three types of organisms could survive chlorine or other common pool cleaners and were also responsible for most of the infections over the last 15 years:
- Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause contagious diarrhea
- Pseudomonas, a bacteria that causes swimmer’s ear
- Legionella, a bacteria that causes the pneumonia-like Legionnaires’ disease.
Of the three chemical-resistant germs, cryptosporidium was the hardest to kill and can survive for more than a week in the water. “Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea,” the report warns. Health officials blamed people who enter the water while carrying these contagious parasites for infecting fellow swimmers who accidentally ingested pool water.
The May 18 release added that about 500 outbreaks connected to treated pool water were reported in the U.S. from 2000 to 2014. Hotels were the biggest breeding ground for pool water germs, with most of the outbreaks being reported between June and August.
The CDC’s best advise if you’re headed to a pool this summer is to avoid swallowing any water you’re swimming in, use chemical test strips to measure levels of pH, ask to see a public pool’s latest water treatment inspection score, and (most importantly) don’t swim with an upset stomach.