Poop in the Pool: A Gut-Turning Study From the CDC

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A rather stomach-churning warning came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday: You may want to think twice before diving into that lovely looking public swimming pool. There's probably poop in there.

The bacteria E. Coli, most commonly associated with fecal matter, was found in more than half of water samples taken at public swimming pools in the Atlanta area. The CDC sampled water from 161 public pools, both indoor and outdoor, and 58 percent of them showed the presence of E.Coli.

Researchers could not definitively connect the presence of the bacteria with human feces, but they made a pretty strong case that it "signifies that swimmers introduced fecal material into pool water."

"We don’t know how it got in there. It either washed off somebody’s body or somebody had a bowel movement in the pool," said Michele Hlavsa, head of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program. "It is time to stop treating the swimming pool as a toilet. Nowhere else except for the pool is it acceptable to poop in public or pee in public. In other places if we did this in public, we'd be arrested."

The likely culprits aren't just babies or toddlers wearing those not-so-protective swim diapers that can let fecal matter leak into the water. Grown ups who don't shower properly before getting into the pool can bring fecal matter with them into the water.

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