E. coli bacteria are present in over half of all public swimming pools, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

E. coli (Escherichia coli), a fecal indicator was found in 58% of pool samples, the CDC informed. Fecal material (poop material) can get into a pool during a formed or diarrheal fecal incident in the water or washing off of swimmers bodies. In other words, pool water can become contaminated if people don’t shower beforehand or poop while in the pool.

According to the Report – “Microbes in Pool Filter Backwash as Evidence of the Need for Improved Swimmer Hygiene – Metro-Atlanta, Georgia, 2012” – researchers checked out 161 public swimming pools from the metro-Atlanta area during the summer of 2013.

Potentially harmful microorganisms were found in:

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) found in 59% of samples – indicates contamination from the environment (dirt), swimmers, or fomites. Fomites are any inanimate objects that can transmit microorganisms, such as towels, kickboards, etc.
  • E. coli was found in 58% of samples – indicates contamination from swimmers and/or their feces
Seniorenpaar mit Babys im Pool
It is important that babies and some toddlers wear proper swimmers diapers

The researchers wrote “Although this study focused on microbial DNA in filters (not on illnesses), these findings indicate the need for swimmers to help prevent introduction of pathogens (e.g., taking a pre-swim shower and not swimming when ill with diarrhea), aquatics staff to maintain disinfectant level and pH according to public health standards to inactivate pathogens, and state and local environmental health specialists to enforce such standards.”

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium typically found in the gut of warm blooded organisms (endotherms), including humans.

The normal flora of the human gut has several types of E. coli. Many of these bacteria have beneficial functions, including the production of vitamin K2. They may also protect us from pathogenic bacteria, or harmful bacteria, from gaining a foothold in the intestine and causing illness.

The majority of E. coli are harmless to humans, except for some serotypes which can infect humans, make them ill, and sometimes dangerously ill. Serious infection is also possible with some less common serotypes, including O104:H4, O121, O26, O103, O111, O145 and O104:H21.

Signs and symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection include:

Signs and symptoms usually appear three to four days after becoming infected; less rarely they may appear within a day or after one week.

The 0157:H7 E. coli strain produces a potent toxin – Shiga toxin – that is harmful for the lining of the small intestine.

Written by Christian Nordqvist