As the dog days of summer are upon us and, in many places, the temperatures are reaching into the 90s and even the 100s, there’s no better place to go to cool off than your friendly neighborhood pool. Whether you fancy swimming a few laps, playing with the little ones in the kiddie pool, or sliding down a thrilling slide, you can count on one thing: the water will refresh and rejuvenate your heat-weary body.
But there’s one more thing that many pools can count on these days, and it’s not at all refreshing.
As most of us know, the health department regulates pool water safety and provides clear guidelines for safeguarding the health of all pool patrons. One of those regulations deals with pool chemicals.
It is the responsibility of the pool operator to test the chems often, and make adjustments to maintain the chlorine and pH levels within the recommended range to ensure proper disinfection.
But now, health officials are warning that there is one microscopic organism that is finding its way into public pools that cannot be killed with normal levels of chlorine. And it is becoming a problem because it is not easy to detect.
Consumer Reports explains about this nasty parasite. “The most common culprit when it comes to this swimming-related illness — particularly in public pools or water parks — is cryptosporidium or crypto for short. It’s spread through fecal matter; even a small amount can contain millions of germs.” Yes, that’s right - through poop in the pool!
“Regular levels of chlorine won’t kill crypto, which can survive in a well- maintained pool for up to ten days! It’s also easy to catch.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that swallowing even one mouthful of water infected with crypto can lead to weeks of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. You should emphasize to kids that they should not be swallowing the water.”
The CDC has some recommendations that will help protect you and your family from spreading or contracting this wretched illness. “Make sure anyone who swims in your pool follows some simple guidelines.
“Anyone who is experiencing diarrhea or has been sick in other ways should not swim. You should have people take a shower or at least rinse off before they swim. Also, have kids take frequent bathroom breaks to reduce the risk of accidents. That goes for babies as well; those swim diapers aren’t foolproof.”
If someone becomes sick, a doctor can find out if it’s Crypto. If it is, the pool will be notified and immediate action must be taken, including closing down the pool and super-chlorinating the water.
This involves raising the amount of disinfectant to extremely high levels for several hours - It is unsafe for swimmers to be in the water during this process - then lowering them to a normal level. The whole process can take up to 24 hours.
One final warning from the CDC: If you have been diagnosed with Cryptosporidium, you need to wait at least two weeks before using the pool again - to prevent spreading the illness to others.
Please be diligent about observing these guidelines. After all, everyone’s health is at stake. If you suspect you have been sickened from Crypto after swimming in a pool, see you doctor right away for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
If everyone works together, we can keep our wonderfully refreshing swimming pools safe, clean, and the best place in town on a hot summer day!!