Parasite in Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool kills 80 ducklings

A parasite living in the iconic Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool has killed dozens of ducklings in the past three weeks, causing National Park Service officials to drain and clean it.

Since May 20, the NPS reports 80 ducklings have been found dead in the reflecting pool. The U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center "suggest" the ducks died from, "high levels of parasites that develop and grow in snails that live in the pool."

Humans also are susceptible to the parasite, warns the NPS. It may cause a non-contagious condition called "swimmer's itch," a skin rash that often doesn't require medical treatment.

The pool must now be cleaned because chemical treatments aren't enough to combat both the parasites and snails. Work will begin Sunday with the pool taking two days to drain. Crews will begin cleaning the bottom of the pool on Tuesday and all cleaning will be finished on Friday. The pool will be refilled by June 19.

The NPS said it will monitor the condition of the pool.

The rectangular pool has been the backdrop to historic events, most notably the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The pool provides a reflection of the Washington Monument when looking east and a reflection of the Lincoln Memorial when looking west.

Follow Sean Rossman on Twitter: @SeanRossman

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