By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -
The federal government warned recently that nearly three out of five tested positive for the bacteria found in feces.
With Memorial Day weekend marking the official start of pool season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health departments and park systems are warning pool goers, especially parents of young children.
The CDC tested the filters of a sample of public pools and then analyzed the samples for bacteria. According to the CDC, 58 percent tested for E. coli.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes infections of the skin and ear, was found in 59 percent of samples. Bacteria that causes the most serious stomach ailments was found in low numbers.
Experts say you should always take a shower before hopping into the pool and always wash your hands after using the restroom. And of course, never use the bathroom in the pool or swallow pool water.
"Swimming is an excellent way to get the physical activity needed to stay healthy," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program, said in a statement. "However, pool users should be aware of how to prevent infections while swimming. Remember, chlorine and other disinfectants don't kill germs instantly. That's why it's important for swimmers to protect themselves by not swallowing the water they swim in and to protect others by keeping feces and germs out of the pool by taking a pre-swim shower and not swimming when ill with diarrhea."
But someone doesn't have to poop in the water to create an issue, Hlavsa said in an interview with NBC News. She said most people contain some sort of E. coli on their body because they aren't squeaky clean.
"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."
Health inspectors work hard to keep pools clean. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment are tasked with inspecting the 338 pools in the county under their jurisdiction. The inspections are done at least once a month when the pools are open. The inspections include checking chemical and chlorine.
The department doesn't check for fecal matter, but emphasizes the hygiene tips stressed by the CDC.
He said the biggest source of contamination comes from youngsters with soggy diapers.
"It's very important to give your children bathroom breaks (every) 30 to 60 minutes. Wash your hands after changing diapers. Make sure you are changing diapers in restrooms instead of out on the pool decks and make sure to clean your children up," said Ryan Lester of the JOCO Health Department.
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