Part 2, Waterborne Illnesses – How Can We Avoid Them While Enjoying Our Pools and Rivers
In Part 1 of this story about the threat of contracting waterborne diseases while enjoying our swimming pools, hot tubs or rivers, Dr. Julie Hare, the Medical Director of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s Rural Health Clinic, told us about all the threats that exist in both natural waters and in our chlorinated pools and hot tubs. She surprised me by saying most waterborne illnesses we contract come from chlorinated pools and hot tubs because many of the disease causing pathogens are resistant to chlorine and many people are subject to health problems caused by the chlorine itself. She talked about bacteria, viruses and even tiny flat worms that can irritate out skin causing rashes. Some of these pathogens can cause respiratory problems and many cause diarrhea. Well, after scaring us away from water in part 1, Doctor Hare, in part 2 of the story eases our minds with some simple ways to enjoy swimming while avoiding all those nasty things.
“So how do we prevent these illnesses and avoid having to take down-time during the summer months?” Doctor Hare said. “There are indeed a number of precautions and behaviors that help to prevent the the infection and the spread of these bugs. There are a number of precautions and behaviors that help to prevent the infection and spread of these bugs. I think most of them are common sense”
- “Number one -avoid swimming in treated water that is murky or has an odor.
- Please check kids in diapers periodically because even swim diapers can leak
- Children under five should not use hot tubs.
- People who have had diarrhea illnesses should not swim for at least one week after your symptoms completely resolve. You are still shedding the bug that made you sick.
- Pool owners should maintain and monitor chlorine levels – however swimmers should always be careful and use caution because, as we talked about, there are pathogens out there that are resistant to chlorines.
- Swim warnings should be heeded, and swimmers should always shower before using a hot tub or a pool.
- People with open wounds should always use waterproof band aids.
- And last, but not least, water used for recreation should not be ingested regardless if it has been treated or is from a natural resource. Remember, waterborne illnesses are spread via the fecal/oral route.”
“So by taking these precautions, we can all work together to reduce waterborne pathogens and prevent the spread of illness, which makes summer better for everyone.”