Parasites Immune to Water Treatment May Still be Lurking in Pools

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Jun 29, 2015 07:11 AM EDT

Summer season has officially started and with this, pools and even hot tubs owners are starting to open their doors to the public. However, before you jump into the inviting water, a new report states that parasites are now immune to water treatment methods and can be the main cause for the wide-spread of swimming pool contamination incidents in the country.

MSN Heath & Fitness writes that according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a parasite called "Cryptosporidium" is the culprit behind the rise of recreational pools and hot tubs water contamination cases and the outbreaks have significantly increased since 1988.

Medical Daily notes that according to Mayo Clinic, when the parasite enters an individual's body, it will make a hole in the small intestine, causing diarrhea. Although the parasite will leave after a week or two through defecation, it can also lead to death of the individual's immune system has been affected.

CBS News reports that Michele Hlavsa, lead author of the research, says swimmers are able to bring Cryptosporidium in public pools and hot tubs when they are sick with diarrhea. This parasite is very impervious to chlorine and can live in treated water without being harmed. Dr. Holly Phillips, CBS News Medical Contributor, states that one of the most interesting fact about this report is 77% occurs in treated water not in pond or lakes where bacteria is said to usually multiply.

Hlavsa insists that the only way to avoid these outbreaks is to regulate a certain set of health standards for all recreational waters, including public swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas. Last 2014, CDC has released a Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) with guidelines on how to improve treated water quality. MAHC has recommended the installation of secondary decontamination forms like ultraviolet light or ozone to eliminate the parasite completely.

Incidentally, CDC also reports that the increase in water contamination has not been confined in treated water alone. E. coli, a bacteria responsible for causing diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, is reported to be found lurking in lakes and salt waters, causing a large incident of outbreaks between the years 2011 and 2012.

CDC concludes that in order to prevent contamination, swimmers are advised to keep the water clean, to avoid swimming if experiencing any illnesses like diarrhea and nausea and, most importantly, to refrain from using public swimming pools and lakes as a personal toilet. Keeping the open waters clean and sanitary will not only keep the swimmers safe but will also allow everyone to have the best summer experience.

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