Do you want me to save you the water?

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One of my mother’s jokes. When I was a teenager my mates would come around for me so we could all walk to the local pub and discus what we were going to do that weekend. Standing in the kitchen my mother’s best, sincere voice would sound from the hallway ‘I just finished in the bath would you like me to save you the water!’ it never got old.

Swimming in a communal pool when you look at the facts that is what you are doing, sharing bath water, certainly if the swimming pool is poorly maintained.

People, when on holiday in a foreign country blame the chief for their bad stomachs or diarrhoea this more often could be due to contaminated swimming pools and hot tub water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal matter to pool water — usually within the first 15 minutes. Where there is fecal matter the bacteria E. Coli is lurking.

People don’t wash their private parts and deep crevices so this ends up in the water and no matter how diluted a small amount of water with fecies germs in it can course diarrhoea.

The strong smell is not the chlorine but the chlorine mixing with bacteria and things like urine and sweat. Consider that sweat is diluted urine, urea, salt and water all these materials mixed together create an ammonia like substance called chloramine.

If the smell is especially pungent, then it’s a sure sign the pool chemistry is off balance and needs to be adjusted.

Other harmful germs such as cryptosporidium (crypto) parasites and Giardia, can spread in public pools where there is insufficient chlorine and too-low pH levels. Symptoms of all three illnesses include, feelings of nausea, vomiting, dehydration, painful stomach cramps, diarrhoea and inevitably weight loss.

RWI (recreational water illnesses) are caused by germs that are spread by swallowing contaminated water present in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, lakes, and oceans.

According to the CDC, the past two decades have seen a significant increase in the outbreak of RWI of which the most common effect is diarrhoea caused by germs like – Crypto and E. coli.

Other RWI infections include: Red sore eyes, swimmers ear: itchiness, redness, swelling, and pain of the inner ear. Skin rashes, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal and the most common diarrhoea.

Hot tubs also need to be well maintained before you can safely relax. You can end up with ‘hot tub rash’ a skin infection caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This germ thrives in hot tubs and causes an itchy, bumpy red rash that can sometimes be pus-filled. To avoid this, shower straight after and go heavy on the soap, wash swim suits and clean and maintain the hot tub being used.

Other infections that can be prevented with better cleaning practices are Legionella which causes Legionnaires disease, Shigella and Norovirus.

 

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