CDC: Illness outbreaks caused by parasites in pools on the rise

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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 27:  Kids play in the Dry Dock pool in Mahattan's East Village on the first day of the city's outdoor pool season on June 27, 2013 in New York City. The pool and neighboring buildings were flooded by Superstorm Sandy. The neighborhood is recovering and all 55 public outdoor city pools were able to open today on the first day of the season.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

ATLANTA – You are not the only one who thrives in the summer and loves its warm, long days. Bacteria and other microbes that cause food poisoning, diarrhea and just general grossness also flourish, threatening to make it a season to be sick.

There have been a significant increase in the number of recreational water illness outbreaks associated with swimming over the past two decades, the Centers for Disease Control said in a new report.

“We recommend that you not pee or poop in the water and shower before you go in,” said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Health Swimming Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2010 CDC report found that one out of 10 public pools don’t have proper chlorine levels. To make sure you’re not about to take a dip in a bacteria-laden pool, “you can use pool test strips at a pool supply or big box store” to check the chlorine level, Hlavsa said. (The CDC recommends chlorine levels in pools between 1 and 3 parts per million and pH of 7.2 to 7.8.)

Even at the right levels, chlorine does not wipe out everything. A new CDC report found that a parasite called cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhea and lives up to 10 days in a chlorinated pool, was associated with 37 (54%) of the 69 outbreaks of illness at pools and water parks. “To protect yourself, it’s about not swallowing the water you swim in, and to protect others don’t swim if you have diarrhea,” Hlavsa said