THURSDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- There were 134 waterborne
disease outbreaks associated with swimming pools and other
recreational water in the United States in 2007-08, and 36
outbreaks associated with drinking water, according to two federal
reports released Thursday.
The 134 recreational water illness outbreaks that occurred
between January 2007 and December 2008 occurred in 38 states and
Puerto Rico, caused at least 13,966 cases of illness, and was the
highest number of such outbreaks ever reported in a two-year
The number of recreational water illness outbreaks -- which
include outbreaks linked to swimming pools, rivers, lakes and ocean
water -- increased by 72 percent between 2005-06 and 2007-08,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sixty (45 percent) of the outbreaks in 2007-08 were caused by
cryptosporidium, a parasite that's extremely resistant to chlorine. Reversing the growing number of recreational water illness outbreaks will require improvements in swimming pool disinfection and operation, stronger pool regulations and enforcement, and better swimmer hygiene, the CDC said.
The agency outlined a number of ways to prevent recreational
water illness outbreaks:
- Don't swim when you have diarrhea. The illness-causing germs
can spread in the water and make other people sick.
- Avoid getting pool water in your mouth.
- Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after
using the toilet or changing diapers. This will help prevent germs
on your body from getting into the water.
The analysis of national data also found more than 4,000 cases
of illnesses and injuries occur each year due to chemicals in
private and public pools. Good chemical-handling practices can
prevent these problems, the CDC said.
The CDC also said eight fatal cases of primary amebic
meningoencephalitis -- rare and deadly brain infection -- occurred
in the United States in 2007-08. The infection is caused by the
Naegleria fowleri. All the cases were caused by exposure to untreated warm fresh water in ponds and lakes, the agency said.
The second report said 36 waterborne disease outbreaks
associated with drinking water occurred in 23 states and Puerto
Rico between January 2007 and December 2008. The outbreaks caused
4,128 illnesses and three deaths.
More than half of these outbreaks were caused by untreated or
inadequately treated groundwater, which suggests that groundwater
contamination remains an important public health issue, the CDC
The outbreaks were caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and
chemicals. One-third of the drinking water-related outbreaks were
legionella, a bacteria that can cause severe breathing problems and is responsible for between 8,000 to 18,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more about