More people than ever are getting sick from contaminated water in swimming pools and fountains.
Federal health researchers have documented a record number of cases of diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, and nausea stemming from recreational water uses.
Of the 13,480 individuals sickened in 2007-2008, the most recent years for which there are statistics, 96.5 percent were associated with treated water used in pools and wading fountains, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said in its recent "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report." A parasite called cryptosporidium is being largely blamed.
"Crypto is pretty tolerant of chlorine," says Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program.
More than 60 percent of the victims suffered gastrointestinal discomfort, 18 percent had skin problems, and close to 13 percent were respiratory related.
Some incidents can be avoided by swimmers not ingesting pool water. Parents and guardians can also assist by making sure small children frequently go to the restroom to avoid release of bodily fluids in the water.
Ultraviolet light and ozone are effective in killing the cryptosporidium parasite found in treated recreational water, the CDC report said.