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CDC: Waterborne Illnesses More Often In Public Pools, Not Lakes

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Summer is here and on warm days like Thursday, the best place to cool off is often the water.

But a new study shows some types of water are cleaner than others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new study that says the majority of water-borne illnesses are in public pools, hot tubs and wading pools -- not lakes.

The CDC study tracked waterborne illnesses from the years 200 to 2014, showing there were 493 outbreaks in recreational water that was treated with chemicals.

In contrast, there were 140 outbreaks in lakes and rivers.

The numbers did not include private pools.

Dr. Matt Hockett is a family practice physician at Fairview Clinics. He says the problem with public pools is that bacteria and parasites can lurk in them.

"Generally, we're talking about diarrhea-related illnesses," he said. "People swallow bacteria or viruses through the water, they get stomach cramps, that type of thing.

The best form of protection is to keep a sick child home and out of the pool, hot tub or wading pool.

But if you're bringing your healthy child along, teach them what not to do.

"Try to encourage them not to drink pool water, not to swallow pool water, try to have them shower afterwards," Hockett said

Still, the risk of actually getting a waterborne illness from a pool or a natural body of water is still low.

"We usually hear about them as large outbreaks but considering upon the thousands upon thousands of public swimming pools around the country it's a relatively rare occurrence," Hockett said.

In Minnesota, pools have to be licensed and inspected annually.

Still, the majority of illness cases are caused by people not by chemicals.


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