Swimming Pool Parasites: Unwelcome Summer Guests
Frequent swimmers contend with a number of effects, including green tinted hair, dry skin and waterlogged ears, but a number of more serious, unsuspecting water illnesses can also be caught from swimming in pools. The most common are caused by the germs Cryptosporidium (crypto), Giardia, E. coli and Shigella. Once these parasites gain entry to the pool they can cause swimmers to experience a variety of infections ranging from skin, ear and eye to gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses that can quickly put a damper on summer fun.
How widespread are these pesky pool parasites? Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found nearly one in ten public swimming pools in a major metropolitan city tested positive for Crypto and Giardia, the parasites responsible for causing most of the outbreaks of diarrhea among swimmers in the United States. Diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses related to swimming and is spread when disease carrying germs from human or animal feces get into the water and are accidentally swallowed by unsuspecting swimmers.
Disadvantages of a Parasite Pool Party
Recreational water illnesses are caused by germs that are spread by accidentally swallowing small amounts of water, breathing in mists, or having direct contact with contaminated pool water. The germs Crypto and Giardia are highly infectious and more resistant to chlorine than other germs, enabling them to live longer, even in the cleanest and best maintained swimming pools. Young children, pregnant women and anyone with a fragile immune symptom can become severely ill, if they are infected with Cryptosporidium or Giardia.
Avoiding the Lurking Pool Parasites
According to the CDC, the best way to kill the swimming pool germs is by frequently measuring the chlorine and pH levels in the water, ensuring that they are sufficient enough to kill the germs without causing eye and skin irritations. What’s the best way to avoid getting sick from these nasty parasites? Before taking the kids to the local swimming pool or waterpark, follow these steps to protect your family from recreational water illnesses:
Shower with soap immediately before and after swimming
Keep children who have recently had diarrhea out of pools
Avoid swallowing pool water and getting it in your mouth
Encourage young children to take frequent bathroom breaks
If you own a pool, keep it clean and free of debris, and check pH and chlorine levels frequently