Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Oxford County Public Health and Emergency Services
Swimming and Diarrhea Don’t Mix
Don’t swim if you have diarrhea: it may sound like common sense, but swallowing water contaminated with feces is still a leading cause of recreational water illness from visits to pools and beaches.
Oxford County Public Health & Emergency Services is reminding people about the risks of swimming with diarrhea as part of its yearly campaign on recreational water illness. The campaign features “Swimming and diarrhea don’t mix” and “Wash your baby” posters at public pools to remind people to stay out of the pool if they have diarrhea and to wash babies thoroughly before swimming.
Diarrhea presents a risk to other swimmers because it takes only trace amounts of fecal matter to make others sick. Some of these germs live only minutes and some survive for days, even in swimming pools with good filtration and disinfection systems.
Not swimming when you have diarrhea is the best way to prevent the spread of recreational water illness. Other steps you can take to protect yourself and others are: use the showers at public pools to rinse off before swimming; wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper; take children on bathroom breaks and change swimming diapers often; and avoid swallowing pool or beach water.
Recreational water illnesses, which are caused by germs that are swallowed or inhaled from contaminated water, can also cause skin, ear, respiratory, eye and wound infections. Recreational water illnesses can cause more serious health complications in children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
Public Health’s role in helping to prevent recreational water illness includes inspecting pools and splash pads in the community to ensure health procedures are followed. Public Health also samples beach water weekly from mid-May to Labour Day to check bacteria levels. Area beaches with high levels of bacteria are posted on site as not safe for swimming. Beach water updates are available online at www.oxfordcounty.ca/health or by phone by dialing 2-1-1.
“Children love visiting the beach, pools and water parks in the summer, but children are also one of the groups most vulnerable to recreational water illness because their immune systems are maturing and they are more likely to swallow water. Even if you think you’re well enough to swim, to help protect everyone’s health, we’re asking people to wait until they know their diarrhea has completely subsided before stepping foot in a public swimming area.”
- Peter Heywood, Program Supervisor, Public Health & Emergency Services, County of Oxford
- The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says on average people have about 0.14 grams of feces on their bottoms which, when rinsed off, can contaminate recreational water. When someone is ill with diarrhea, their stool can contain millions of germs that can easily contaminate the water in a large pool or water park.
- One of the most common causes of recreational water illness is the parasite Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto.” Crypto can survive up to 11 days in a chlorinated swimming pool.
519-539-9800, ext 3503