No. 1 swimming pool problem? Number two - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

No. 1 swimming pool problem? Number two

Posted: Updated:

People always worry about pee in the pool, but number two is the No. 1 problem, government health experts say. They found plenty of evidence that someone's pooping in the pool.

It's not only disgusting, but it's evidence that people are not following basic hygiene rules, says Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthy Swimming Program.

"It is time to stop treating the swimming pool as a toilet," Hlavsa told NBC News. "Nowhere else except for the pool is it acceptable to poop in public or pee in public. In other places if we did this in public, we'd be arrested."

CDC and county health officials tested the pools in four Florida counties last summer for the study. They got water out of the pool filters and ran tests for microbes – especially E. coli, which lives inside the bodies of animals and which is carried in feces. If E. coli is somewhere, it likely got there via feces.

"Escherichia coli, a fecal indicator, was detected in 93 (58 percent) samples; detection signifies that swimmers introduced fecal material into pool water," Hlavsa's team wrote in CDC's weekly report on disease and death.

"We don't know how it got in there. It either washed off somebody's body or somebody had a bowel movement in the pool," Hlavsa said.

Regular bowel movements – what CDC delicately refers to as a "formed fecal incident" – isn't so much a worry. But diarrhea is. Diarrhea carries the germs that caused the illness right into the water, and the chlorine doesn't kill it instantly.

The good news is that there were no reports of sickness outbreaks at any of the pools tested last summer – or anywhere else in Florida last summer, for that matter, Hlavsa says. But every year there are between 20 and 80 disease outbreaks associated with public pools – and those are just the ones that get reported, Hlavsa says.

The other piece of good news is that there weren't too many other pathogens in the pools. Only one sample of Cryptosporidium, a common cause of diarrhea, showed up. Two samples of a parasite called Giardia were found – that one can cause a very uncomfortable stomach upset. Viruses such as adenovirus, which causes colds, and norovirus, which causes "stomach flu," can survive in swimming pools.

The E. coli in the pool didn't necessarily come from a bowel movement, Hlavsa said -- and this is why it's important to actually obey the signs that virtually everyone ignores about showering before going into the pool.

"The average person has about .14 grams of feces on their rear end," Hlavsa said. "If that rinses off into the water, the amount from one person might not be that much. But as more and more swimmers introduce it that much, it does become an issue."

She's actually done the math.

"Let's imagine 1,000 kids go to a water park. They have as much as 10 grams of feces on their rear ends," she said. "We are now talking about 10,000 grams or 10 kg. That translates to 24 pounds of poop in the water."

So one important rule – never swallow the water from a swimming pool.

"Basically, these pools are big bathtubs we all share together," Hlavsa said.

She doesn't want to scare anyone away from swimming, which is, after all, a great way to exercise. "As soon as the weather gets warm enough here in Atlanta, I plan to swim," Hlavsa said.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @wflatampa

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Woman says she bought tainted Hostess donettes at Sarasota gas station

    Woman says she bought tainted Hostess donettes at Sarasota gas station

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:33 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:33:29 GMT
    Everyone loves a good donut. But not the ones Jena Slinkard bought Thursday night at gas station in Sarasota. She just wanted a yummy, powdered donut late at night. So she bought a few packs, but when she bit into her normal favorite, Hostess Donettes, she spit it right out.
    Everyone loves a good donut. But not the ones Jena Slinkard bought Thursday night at gas station in Sarasota. She just wanted a yummy, powdered donut late at night. So she bought a few packs, but when she bit into her normal favorite, Hostess Donettes, she spit it right out.
  • Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Back-to-School Tax-free Holiday is here

    Friday, August 1 2014 11:37 AM EDT2014-08-01 15:37:09 GMT
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
    It's almost time to head back to school and that means it's time to shop.
  • Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Tampa Bay woman feels ripped off, pays $61 for coins worth $1.50

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:10 PM EDT2014-07-31 22:10:55 GMT
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
    Vickie McInnis responded to a newspaper ad promising a chance to buy old, rarely-seen coins that have been sitting in a bank vault for years.With shipping, she paid $61.43. But, here's what she received: a bag of about 100 pennies, worth at most: $1.50.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Body found near Polk search area for missing girl

    Body found near Polk search area for missing girl

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-08-02 01:53:38 GMT
    Alexandria Chery, 16, of OrlandoAlexandria Chery, 16, of Orlando
    A decomposed body has been found near the search area for a missing 16-year-old Orange County girl.
    A decomposed body has been found near the search area for a missing 16-year-old Orange County girl.
  • Tampa attorney says taking cover a part of life in Israel

    Tampa attorney says taking cover a part of life in Israel

    Friday, August 1 2014 8:56 PM EDT2014-08-02 00:56:30 GMT
    Today in Tampa, young and old, Christians and Jews gathered in Lykes Gaslight Square Park. About 200 of them showed their solidarity and support for Israel in its latest ongoing bloody battle with Hamas. One bay area man watched some of that battle up close. Tampa attorney Mark Wright watched the war unfold on television. Wright is Jewish-American, has friends in Israel and traveled to the Jewish state several times. He said he felt the need to go, to help....
    Today in Tampa, young and old, Christians and Jews gathered in Lykes Gaslight Square Park. About 200 of them showed their solidarity and support for Israel in its latest ongoing bloody battle with Hamas. One bay area man watched some of that battle up close. Tampa attorney Mark Wright watched the war unfold on television. Wright is Jewish-American, has friends in Israel and traveled to the Jewish state several times. He said he felt the need to go, to help....
  • No love for Lyft in the Tampa Bay area?

    No love for Lyft in the Tampa Bay area?

    Friday, August 1 2014 7:36 PM EDT2014-08-01 23:36:29 GMT
    Kevin Ludig feels like a rock star – he loves his job at Lyft that much.“You know I keep telling people I feel like a rock star because everyone keeps talking about what I do,” joked Kevin in his sleek Mercury MKS Hybrid. “I love this job.”Kevin uses his life at Lyft as a supplement to his work in solar panel sales.
    Kevin Ludig feels like a rock star – he loves his job at Lyft that much.“You know I keep telling people I feel like a rock star because everyone keeps talking about what I do,” joked Kevin in his sleek Mercury MKS Hybrid. “I love this job.”Kevin uses his life at Lyft as a supplement to his work in solar panel sales.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.