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Lincoln Memorial's Reflecting Pool To Be Drained By Park Service

First Posted: Jun 13, 2017 05:16 AM EDT

A total of 80 ducklings were found dead at the Lincoln Memorial's Reflecting Pool over the weekend, with 53 of the deaths occurring in a day. The culprit: a parasite that grows in snails living in the said pool.

Because of the danger it posits, the National Park Service had to drain the entire pool over the weekend, considering that chemical treatments were no longer sufficient to fully reduce the snail and parasite population. To ensure safety of the ducks and children that could potentially visit the memorial, the pool must be drained and cleaned properly.

The Washington Post reported that while the risks of a person contracting the parasite is low, those who do come in contact with the water from the pool could develop cercarial dermatitis. This is also known as swimmer's itch. It causes a skin rash but is not contagious and rarely requires medical treatment.

Even at the pool, there is a low risk of contracting the rash. It can only affect a person who sustained contact with the affected water, such as by wading or swimming in the pool.

CNN noted that the cleanup, which began on Sunday, will take about two days to drain the water. The crew will begin cleaning the interior by Tuesday.

Mark Litterst, a spokesman for the Park Service, said that the pool has a capacity of nearly 4 million gallons and has been drained and killed before, but for different reasons. While it is not clear why the parasite killed the ducks this year, another reason for the high mortality rate may be related to the string of 90-degree days in May, which made them more deadly.

By Friday, the pool should be done draining and cleaning, and the crew should be able to start refilling it with water. By the following week, things should be back to normal. Once the cleaning and refilling is complete, the National Park Service will continue monitoring the water quality in the pool.

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