Cleaning dirty pools nowadays has transformed into a challenging & complex task indeed. Thus, educating the public regarding the reality and the apparent diseases from dirty pool water has never been more vital than ever for even in ignorance, no man/woman regardless of character is exempt from these consequences.
Pool water in its plain naiveté form, has a thing or two in its bag of tricks that can make the lives of gullible swimmers a nightmare. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, bacteria and contaminants can easily camouflage and assimilate itself even in the most pristine waters in pools.
Frankly speaking, appearance alone is not a necessity nowadays in order to be able to gauge truly how dirty a pool can be. Contrary to popular belief, even chlorinated pools do not give you 100% assurance that the said pool is clean & safe to bathe in.
We now live in perilous times wherein germs have the capability to be tolerant to chlorine and other measures of decontamination and even take various periods of time before they are truly expunged from pools.
What are Diseases from Dirty Pool Water?
Diseases from dirty pool water, or otherwise widely known as “Recreational Water Illnesses,” are diseases or illnesses caused by germs that are categorized into bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites & protozoa.
They are introduced into a swimmer’s body thru countless ways that some of us may even never suspect. These diseases from dirty pool water can include a wide variety of infections, such as gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections along with their respective manifestations.
The most commonly reported disease among them all is Diarrhea which has been caused mostly by germs such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, Norovirus and E. coli.
How are these Diseases Introduced into the Body?
Diseases from dirty pool water can invade an individual’s body in many different ways. Just like any other pathogen, most are opportunistic and await that moment wherein the body is at its most vulnerable and then they strike hard.
Contrary to popular belief though, some of the other means these pathogens can invade one’s body is also brought about by the result of poor human insight and not just due to already weakened immune systems of some individuals. This so called poor human insight manifest itself in very pressing examples such as poor swimmer sanitation & inadequate pool disinfection standards.
Truth be told, an act of God is not necessary to inflict these said pool water diseases and thus, the former is also not a necessity either to stop such diseases from breaking afoul.
One of the most common ways the pathogens are introduced to the swimmer’s body is through swallowing of contaminated or dirty pool water. This is due to a very obvious fact that swimmer’s share the water along with the germs that come along with it brought about from other swimmers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it does not take much fecal content from a swimmer at all in order to contaminate a whole pool since every person who enters the pool on average has about 0.14 grams of feces on their bottoms which can easily be rinsed off in the pool. This is made a lot scarier in swimmers with the diarrhea as their fecal content alone can contain millions of bacteria. Scary right? Sadly, this is a very prevalent situation in public and crowded pools.
Just being in contact with the dirty pool water especially when there is a presence of a breakdown in the skin barrier is more than enough to allow the pathogen to cause some unfortunate manifestations such as the most common diarrhea.
Even inhaling the mists or aerosols of the contaminated body & the byproducts of the chemicals utilized in maintaining the pools is more than enough to cause such diseases. Bringing into perspective, each and every swimmer holds the true key to the prevention of such diseases. Thus, if each and every swimmer along with those involved in the administration & maintenance of these said pools can make a combined concerted effort, such diseases would already be a thing of the past.
Who are Most Likely to Get Ill?
- Immunosuppressed individuals sit atop on the proverbial peak of those highly susceptible to contracting diseases from dirty pool water. Individuals who fall under this demographic can easily suffer more severe symptoms than usual due to the fact that they have significantly weakened immune systems which in turn hamper their body’s natural ability to fight off the pathogens. Some manifestations may even grow progressively worse and bring about life-threatening conditions. This may involve individuals afflicted with HIV/AIDS, individuals who received an organ transplant, and those undergoing Radiation and Chemotherapy.
- Pregnant Women, although adults, are very vulnerable in a manner that the pathogens causing these diseases can easily cross the placental barrier. In turn, once they are able to cross the barrier, they are free to cause havoc on the defenseless developing fetus. Some of these pathogens are known to be very teratogenic in nature which can be very detrimental to both the Maternal & Fetal wellbeing. From the onset, diseases from dirty pool water have been one of the well-known causes of Birth Defects. Thus, individuals who fall under these categories should take precautionary measures and consult a health provider if possible before engaging in such activities in order to avoid the grim consequences that await.
- Lastly, children are also known to be very vulnerable due to their immune system which has not yet been fully developed.
What are the Most Common Pathogens that cause Diseases from Dirty Pool Water?
Mentioned below are several of the most prevalent pathogens that are known to cause diseases from dirty pool water along with some of their in-depth details:
- Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that is the known cause of the diarrheal disease Cryptosporidiosis. It goes by the more it’s popular name “Crypto”. This parasite has been known to be one of those pathogens that are very tolerant to chlorine disinfection by virtue of its outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for particularly very long periods of time. Cryptosporidium has been attributed as the leading cause of waterborne illnesses in the United States.
- Giardia is a parasite credited with causing the diarrheal illness known as Giardiasis. This parasite is usually found on surfaces or in soil, food, or water which has been contaminated with feces of infected humans & animals. It is also another one of those pathogens that are known to be very tolerant to chlorine disinfection. Just like “Crypto”, it also possesses an outer shell that is responsible for its long survivability outside the body & its chlorine tolerance.
- Shigella belongs to a group of bacteria that is known to cause the infectious disease Shigellosis. Most individuals afflicted with this disease may develop symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. A vital thing to note is that an individual does not necessarily need to be symptomatic in order to pass this disease to others. It’s spread however can be easily stopped by engaging in the most basic hygienic measure of frequent, careful and proper handwashing.
- Norovirus is known to be a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can acquire the virus namely from individuals who have been infected, contaminated food or water, or by getting in contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the virus. The virus is known to cause your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. It can cause Acute Gastroenteritis in the process. This virus can be very serious, especially for young children and older adults as the said age bracket copes poorly with the symptoms of the virus compared to young adults. The best known prevention against Norovirus is the practice of proper hand washing and general cleanliness.
- E. Coli are bacteria found commonly in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. Most of its strains are known to be harmless, however some can make you sick due to its opportunistic & pathogenic trait particularly during times where in the strain is outside the intestinal tract & an individual is known to be immunosuppressed. E. Coli can cause different diseases such as Diarrhea, Pneumonia, Urinary Tract Infections, Respiratory Illnesses and others more.
How can we Prevent Diseases from Dirty Pool Water?
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Indeed, this is a statement that should not be taken lightly. As humans, we are blessed with the gift of foresight. During the times of uneasiness & uncertainty, we are very much capable of trying to have a glimpse into that future in order to avert the possible blowbacks that can result from a period of uncertainty. In lieu of diseases from dirty pool water, the same can also be said.
Why should one have to spend a fortune just to treat recreational water illnesses when in fact, it can be averted altogether without even having to compromise the gratifying experience of bathing in swimming pools in the first place? Indeed, this is a rhetoric that most fail to grasp. The answer is right there all along but most fail to perceive it at all. Thus to the swimmers out there, why resort for a cure when prevention is just right there?
In the field of recreation bathing, measure can also be taken so as to prevent these diseases from occurring altogether. In order to help protect ourselves, our families, our friends and most of all, our fellow swimmers out there, these are some of the following measures that one can take to avoid Diseases from Dirty Pool Water:
Keep the Pee, Poop, Sweat & Dirt away from the Pool
When one bathes in a pool, thou shall not think only about thyself. Each and every swimmer should show concern for the well-being of their fellow swimmers.
If you have diarrhea (especially if you are diagnosed of Crypto), you should stay away from pools for at least two weeks after the diarrhea stops because your presence alone in the pool can easily contaminate the pool. As previously mentioned, it does not take much to contaminate a pool when you have diarrhea! Swimmers should also refrain from the practice of peeing or pooing in pools for very obvious reasons. Just try imagining those other swimmers, take those young kids for example. Don’t they have a knack of swallowing or drinking pool water even when it’s not recommended? Do kids really care even if the pool’s already looking a bit green? Even some adults still do this out of habit. Seriously, if you do practice this at pools then you are irresponsibly bringing about unpleasant experiences for other swimmers. Remember the Golden Rule that says “Don’t Do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you”? If you really don’t give a damn about the well-b
eing of your fellow swimmers, you’re free to do so but only to yourself at your own whim! You have been warned of the consequences though.
One should also be taking a shower before diving in into a pool. It is a very well-known fact that one can never truly eliminate bacteria from one’s skin as sterilizing one’s skin is impossible. However, showering for even a minute can greatly reduce the bacterial load that one can carry in the skin. Why don’t you try do the math? Less bacteria = Lesser Chances of Pool Related Diseases occurring. Thus, showering alone can significantly help improve the sanitation in pools and as a result, can help prevent Diseases from dirty pool water from occurring.
Every Hour, Everyone Out
When planning to stay in the pool for an extended period of time like a day, one should take few short breaks every hour. You do have to take into account the fact that we all have that personal need that when nature calls, one should heed. Are you really willing to heed that call in the pool? Much less a public pool? Doing so is a very unsanitary practice that can affect the many. Especially with kids, parents should check their children’s diapers from time to time. And if there is a need to change diapers, it should be done away from the pool and in the comfort room and not the other way around.
Re-hydrating is another thing that one should be doing in between these breaks. All the more important this is when you are bathing in outdoor pools. Now we wouldn’t want to be dehydrated while literally bathing in a pool of water do we?
Sunscreens also play a vital role when bathing in pools. Would you really want to get sunburns intentionally? Unless you are swimming at night, sunscreens should be reapplied from time to time since the chlorine in the pools are already irritating enough as it is. Skin care is also very important when it comes to swimming.
Regular Pool Cleaning
Every after using the pool, try to make it a habit to clean up as much as you can. Just as simple as removing the floaters and pool toys can already reduce the spread of recreational water diseases immensely. Teach your kids and all the pool-goers to avoid throwing their trash to the pool. It’s not a garbage bin, once and for all.
An important thing to take note as responsible pool owners is regular pool cleaning. At least once a week, there should be a scheduled cleaning of pool water in order to keep our pools clean and dirt-free.
Choose a day of the week for the weekly clean-up. Whether you are operating a commercial pool or just your own residential pool, someone has to be in charge with the pool maintenance. Remember that microorganisms and algae, which causes recreational water illnesses, can grow rapidly in the pool if left uncleaned.
When life really seems to get in the way and you would have no time for for pool chores, you can rely on automated devices to do the task for you. Automated pool cleaners are already available in the market as an amazing alternative for manual pool cleaning labor.
The best and most advanced pool cleaner is the robotic pool cleaner. A robotic pool cleaner brushes pool floor, collects unwanted debris, and keeps water clean all by itself without the need to be operated. This would ensure that pool sanitation is maintained which means there is a lesser chance for pool-goers to acquire recreational water illnesses.