What Diseases can You Get from Swimming Pools & Spas?
Many people go swimming each week to help them stay fit and healthy or simply enjoy a relaxing dip in a spa or Jaccuzzi to unwind. However, while the pool or spa water may look nice and clean, with the smell of chlorine clearly in the air, there could well be nasty bugs lurking that are harmful to your health.
The water found in swimming pools and leisure spas can often provide a great opportunity for microorganisms to find a new host to live on. If someone’s personal hygiene is not quite 100%, and they decide to go for a swim, it could mean parasites and microorganisms can enter the water, giving them the chance to find a new host. Moreover, if faecal matter gets into a swimming pool via one swimmer, it doesn’t need to appear in visible amounts to cause serious contamination problems.
A version of this story dealing with the diseases you can get from swimming pools and hot tubs first appeared in Legionella Control International’s newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.
Which disease could be spread via swimming pool contamination?
Swimmers can inadvertently become exposed to a number of potentially dangerous waterborne pathogens that can contaminate pool water including E. coli, Salmonella, Camplobacter, Legionella, Pseudomonas and norovirus.
If you are unfortunate enough to come down with gastroenteritis, you are unlikely to think of your nice healthy swim as the cause of your illness. You are far more likely to think you’ve eaten something dodgy, or simply encountered the bacteria by touching a surface or encountering someone who is already poorly.
In some cases, there could be an outbreak of a disease that can be traced back to a swimming pool or spa. However, this is rare. Even if a pool is suspected as the cause of an outbreak, water testing could reveal no evidence of any microorganisms by the time it is conducted.
Check the condition of a pool or spa before using it
Before swimming or entering a spa pool, it’s always a good idea to conduct a quick visual check of the condition of the pool surroundings and water. The pool area should look clean and well maintained; the water itself should also be clean, clear, and free from discolouration or any strong or unpleasant smells.
If the pool is properly chlorinated, it should minimise the number of microorganisms in there. Of course, since you cannot see them, you can never be 100% certain any pool is safe to use. Even when the maintenance is second to none, there could be microorganisms in there that cannot be killed by chlorine alone.
However, you can minimise the odds of falling ill by making sure you do not ingest any of the water. It doesn’t usually matter if you dive in, as long as you don’t take any water in when you do so.
As you can see, there is no way to be 100% safe when using a swimming pool. But if you take the advice given above, you should minimise the odds of falling ill.
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