Parasites In Swimming Pools Make People Sick, Health Officials Warn

There’s nothing like beating the summer heat by going to the waterpark with your family and friends, spending the day making good time by either lounging or splashing around in a swimming pool. However, after a steadying increase in incidents, government health officials are now asking people to proceed at their own risk, due to the fact that communal water may host some parasites that even chlorine can’t kill.

One such parasite is Giardia lamblia, a microscopic parasite that spreads through contact with other infected people and infects our small intestine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this parasite can survive up to 45 minutes in a well-chlorinated pool, while the hepatitis A virus can survive up to 16 minutes. There’s also the parasite called Cryptosporidium or crypto. If left in a pool or water that, mind you, is properly maintained/treated, it can still survive for more than a week.

"Unlike maybe norovirus or E. coli, which cause diarrhea or vomiting for a couple days, you can have diarrhea caused by crypto for up to three weeks," said Michele Hlavsa, an epidemiologist and one of the study’s authors. "That's not fun."

Increasing numbers are also not fun. Per a report released by the CDC just this Thursday, exposure to the parasite in both pools and water parks have caused a whopping 4,232 illnesses from the years 2009 up until 2017. Children who, after having diarrhea, swim too soon are one of the primary reasons for the spread of the parasites.

Furthermore, the CDC also revealed that the cases of those affected by crypto in one way or another usually peak during June up until August, increasing by 14.3 percent from 2009 up until 2016. The report is also transparent that these findings are probably just scratching the surface of actual crypto outbreaks.

"To protect ourselves from crypto, the best thing we can do is not swallow the water we swim in," Hlavsa said. "We want to keep crypto out of the pool in the first place, and the way we do that is not to swim or let our kid swim when we’re sick with diarrhea."

Swimming pool underwater Young and older adults should consider swimming to improve their core and balance. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock