Life-threatening illnesses associated with swimming pools are rare, but less serious illnesses are not. During the past 10 years, at least 15,000 people have become ill from swimming, according to the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of these illnesses were diarrheal, which were spread when people accidentally swallowed pool water that had been contaminated with fecal matter, which can happen more often in community and public pools and in areas where children may be that may have “accidents”.
Illnesses can also be spread in other settings in which people share water, such as hot tubs, spas and water park attractions. Several recent disease outbreaks have been traced to contaminated water in the fountain-style attractions that small children play in at water parks.
Chlorine unfortunately does not kill all bacteria. The CDC has suggestions on how to reduce contamination and infection:
• Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
• Don’t swallow pool water.
• Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers.
• Take your children on bathroom breaks often.
• Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside.
• Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming.
• Check to make sure that a pool you visit is properly maintained.
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