After you read this, you might never want to let your kids swim in the pool again
You know there are germs in a swimming pool but do you know how they got there? Prepare for the ewwww factor.
Parents, did you know that germs enjoy hanging out in swimming pools? Well, of course you know. Sometimes your kids contribute to these germs by defecating or releasing themselves in the pool – which has led to serious safety measures in swimming pool rules that clubs and hotels have come up with.
Germs in the swimming pool come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to know a little bit more about these critters and how you can minimise your exposure.
Safety measures in swimming pool: Know your germs
Let’s start the common pathogens found in pools. These include various viruses such as hepatitis A, a viral liver disease, and norovirus. The latter is very contagious and can cause diarrhoea and stomach pain.
Pool-bacteria is mainly Shigella species and E.Coli. Shigella causes bloody diarrhoea. Nasty strains of E. coli also causes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting.
It is also possible to find microscopic parasites that can cause watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps and coughing. Clearly, those that go to contaminated swimming pools are at risk of intestinal infections.
You will swallow these germs
You may already know about the germs but do you know how they got there? This is the gross part.
These critters are transferred among swimmers through their poo. This is known as faecal transmission.There are actually small amounts of poo on most people’s bottoms. According to the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there is about 0.14 grams of faeces on average.
Poo gets washed from the skin of those, carrying bugs, into the swimming pool. The contaminated water is then accidentally swallowed by other swimmers.
You may think that you don’t swallow the water in a pool. But chances are, you do. A study found that during a 45-minute swim, adults swallowed, on average, 37 millilitres. That’s almost two tablespoons. Gross! Children can swallow twice that amount. Even more gross!
Once swallowed, the germs live in their new host’s gastrointestinal tract. That is until they are released back out. Then the cycle starts again.
A baby or toddler may accidentally poo in the water (what the World Health Organization calls this an accidental faecal release). Small amounts of this poo is then swallowed by other swimmers. Ewww, right?
Safety measures in swimming pool
Now that you know the gory details, let’s minimise faecally-derived contamination from a swimming pool. Here are some things that you can look for and do:
- Shower before and after swimming.
- Don’t allow children with stomach problems to swim.
- Look for a pool that has a filtration and a recirculation system. This is will remove contaminants that are large enough to be filtered.
- The pool operator should also maintain proper levels of chlorine or some other sanitiser. Modern digital equipment can ensure chemical parameters are at an ideal range.
- Routine monitoring and water quality management for a pool should include completely draining the pool and refilling it with fresh water. Reverse osmosis to recycle the used pool water is also possible.
- Do your best to avoid swallowing the water when in a pool.
Source: Australian Academy of Science and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention