What’s in your pool water?
School is out, summer is in full swing, and both kids and adults are flocking to local public swimming pools and wading pools.
And that’s where an ugly parasitic infection lurks: Cryptosporidium.
Cryptosporidium (aka “Crypto”) causes diarrhea. It spreads when contaminated fecal matter gets into the pool. Which is frighteningly easy to do, especially when toddlers wear diapers into wading pools or onto splash pads.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported last summer that Crypto cases had doubled from the previous few years, and warned parents to take more precautions.
Crypto is the most common cause of diarrheal illness and outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds because it is not easily killed by chlorine and can survive up to 10 days in properly treated water. Swallowing just a mouthful of water contaminated with Crypto can make otherwise healthy people sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration.
The CDC recommends the following:
- Don’t swim if you (or your child) has diarrhea (please!).
- If you are diagnosed with Crypto, wait at least 2 weeks after diarrhea stops to get back in the pool.
- Take a shower before swimming (the bacteria can live on your skin).
- Take your children on frequent bathrooms breaks.
- Change diapers in the bathroom, not the pool deck.
- Avoid swallowing pool water.
It turns out there is a reason pools ask swimmers to shower before entering the water!
Related post: Water safety tips
Crypto isn’t the only threat in the pool
A couple years ago I read a “horrifying” article on a science website. It explained the real reason your eyes get red after being in a swimming pool. It’s not from excessive amounts of chlorine, like I first thought.
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s not the chlorine in a swimming pool that makes your eyes red and itchy after a swim—it’s the pee. You may want to think twice about not wearing goggles before swimming in that public pool.
Apparently the nitrogen in our pee (and sweat) combines with the chlorine to form chloramine, and that is the chemical responsible for the worst eye irritation.
- Shower before getting into the pool.
- Don’t pee in the pool, and teach your children not to, too. Give them frequent bathroom breaks.
- Wear swimming goggles.
And if your eyes (or your child’s) become very red and irritated, rinse them with plain, tepid water.
- Tilt your head.
- Position a basin to catch the water.
- Using a cup, pour the water into the inner corner of the lower eye and let it wash over the eyeball.
- Retilt your head and do the other eye.
- Repeat for 3-5 minutes.
You can also use an eyewash from the drugstore. Follow the instructions.
Public pools are a terrific resource during the summer months. Just take a few precautions to keep you and yours healthy.
Pool-related health and safety products: