In some cases, they can even lead to death, US health officials reported Thursday.
The findings were published in a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 17. Dr. Dorewitch said the key is preventing outbreaks which he says most park districts, including Oak Park, and big water parks do because they strictly follow CDC guidelines.
And many of those cases were caused by Cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes diarrhea, as well as the bacteria that cause Legionnaire's disease and a second bacteria called Pseudomonas. The infection can cause up to three weeks of severe diarrhea, she said.
These bacteria can enter the body through the skin, eyes or nose, Hlavsa explained.
Legionella, the source of Legionnaires' disease, is another cause of waterborne diseases that led to six of the eight deaths the CDC reported. Crypto caused 58 percent of outbreaks and 89 percent of the illnesses. Of the confirmed outbreaks, 43% were caused by Pseudomonas, 31% by Legionella, and 18% by Cryptosporidium.
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Sixteen percent of outbreaks are caused by Legionella and 13 percent are caused by Pseudomonas, which cause hot tub rash and swimmer's ear.
Some people are more likely to get sick from Legionella, including people 50 years or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease, and people with a weakened immune system.
The most important way to prevent these outbreaks is to educate swimmers. If it gets into contact with a swimmer, or if a swimmer were to digest some of the contaminated water, then the parasite will keep spreading. "What one does affects other people - that's the basic concept of public health", he added. Because of this, the CDC warns individuals to not swim or let your children swim if sick with diarrhea. If Crypto is the cause of the diarrhea, wait until 2 weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
The CDC recommends parents make kids take regular bathroom breaks and not change diapers near the pool.
The CDC said Legionella and Pseudomonas can live in a biofilm that develops when a pool, hot tub or water playground is not cleaned properly.
Use test strips to check if the water's chlorine levels are proper.