Just Another Reminder That Swimming Pools Are Disgusting

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Photo: ballyscanlon/Getty Images

Say what you want about summer fun, but we’re about to enter the grossest season of the year, hands down. Think about what you have to look forward to over the next few months: hot garbage smells, sitting in puddles of other people’s leftover sweat on the subway, the sight of so many grimy flip-flop-clad feet.

And then there are the swimming pools, in a disgusting league of their own. Even if you’ve spent a lifetime in denial, you probably already knew, in your heart of hearts, that your local pool is filled with urine — but that’s not the worst part. As the Washington Post recently reported, new CDC data shows that pool-induced diarrhea is on the rise. In fact, outbreaks of the parasite cryptosporidium at pools and water parks nearly doubled nationwide between 2014 and 2016:

Crypto is the most common cause of diarrhea outbreaks linked with swimming pools and water parks because it can survive up to 10 days in chlorinated water. It takes only a mouthful of contaminated water to make a healthy person sick for up to three weeks. Infections can cause watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration.

To be fair, the numbers are fairly small — the CDC reported 32 swimming-related outbreaks last year — but a single outbreak can mean a lot of sick people. In Ohio, one of the most affected states, nearly 2,000 people contracted the parasite; in Arizona, another state highlighted in the CDC report, that number was around 350. “Those outbreaks highlight the ongoing challenges that treated recreational water venues have with Crypto due to how difficult it is to kill and the small number of germs that can make people sick,” the agency noted in a statement.

The CDC’s recommendations for avoiding the parasite, and for cutting down on its spread, are pretty straightforward: Don’t swim if you have diarrhea; if you have a kid, don’t let them swim if they have diarrhea (and if that diarrhea was caused by crypto, give yourself a two-week window). Also, don’t swallow any pool water, and rinse off once you’re done swimming. And if you have a pool, chlorinate the heck out of it.

Or, better yet, just don’t get in the water at all. Even if there’s no crypto infection, you’re still swimming in poop.

Just Another Reminder That Swimming Pools Are Disgusting