Can you get sick by swimming in public pools? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says outbreaks of a parasitic infection called cryptosporidia are being reported more frequently. The bacteria, which are hard to eradicate with standard levels of chlorine, can cause many symptoms, including watery diarrhea. Should you worry about getting sick when you dive in?
Every season, the news hits of pools closing because of an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis.
“It’s a form of diarrhea that is contagious,” says Dr. Robert Jacobson, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician.
He says outbreaks can happen when someone with active infection swims in a pool. Cryptosporidium spreads easily through water. People who have diarrhea should not swim or bathe with others until two weeks after it has resolved. And all it takes is a gulp of contaminated water for someone to get sick: watery diarrhea, stomachache, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss and mild fever.
“Depending on the severity of the illness, we have treatments that maintain your hydration,” says Dr. Jacobson.
Temporary pool closures usually take care of the problem. Dr. Jacobson says outbreaks are mostly local, and you shouldn’t let them keep you out of the water. He wants people to …
“… Enjoy swimming and relaxing at our poolsides.”