Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun, mrcalhoun@cbs.com)By Michael Calhoun

BERKELEY (KMOX) – Is it safe to jump in the pool?

For at least five facilities in St. Louis County, at one point or another this summer, the answer was no.

“Honestly, we’ve had more positive bacteria samples coming back than we’ve seen in years past,” according to county health department manager Carrie Dickhans.

She reports 29 pools of 160 tested have come up positive so far, and, of those, five had to be shut-down for at least 48 hours to undergo ‘super-chlorination’ to kill stubborn fecal bacteria.

That’s double the typical numbers.

“We’re not really sure why we’re seeing that,” Dickhans told KMOX News on Wednesday. “We can speculate that it might have something to do with the higher incidence of shigella that we’re seeing throughout the county.”

Shigella is an intestinal bug that causes diarrhea. It is killed by chlorine, but not immediately. Dickhans says all swimmers should take a shower immediately before entering a public pool, because whatever is on your body winds up washing off in the water. She also says anybody who has had diarrhea in the last “few weeks” should stay out altogether.

A pool not included in the list of those closed for bacterial contamination is the Manchester Aquatic Center, but it was closed nonetheless this week after reports of a patron testing positive for cryptosporidium. The symptoms are similar to shigella, but, as a parasite, it is more difficult to kill with chlorine.

Dickhans cautions: “We’re not sure whether the person contracted it from a pool or if they had gotten it from somewhere else.”

If you want to know how your pool shapes up, inspection reports are public record and available from the county. Copies are also given to the facility.


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