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Study: Feces infects over half of public pools

WASHINGTON -- Human feces taints more than half of public swimming pools, a finding U.S. health officials are using to urge better personal hygiene as the summer months approach.

E. coli, which indicates the presence of fecal matter, was detected in 58 percent of samples taken from pool filters by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to data released Thursday by the Atlanta-based agency. Pools frequented mostly by children were more likely to test positive for E. coli, which can cause stomach and respiratory illness.

Municipal pools open to all were worse than public pools requiring membership, the CDC said. Acute gastrointestinal illness related to recreational water sports has substantially increased since 1978, with diarrheal incidents and other poor swimmer hygiene being a major contributor, the CDC said.

The CDC tested pool water from filters around the Atlanta area in June through August 2012. It's unlikely that swimmer hygiene differs in other areas, the CDC said.

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