It takes just one person with diarrhea to contaminate a swimming pool, CDC says

1 min read

Now that the CDC is moving past COVID-19, it is focusing on more tangible health issues such as pooping in swimming pools.  In a new campaign, called “Diarrhea and Swimming Don’t Mix”, the CDC created some humorous yet gross depictions of children pooping in swimming pools.

“Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea,” the CDC says.

“When someone swallows contaminated recreational water—water in pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds, or oceans, lakes, and rivers— they can get sick with diarrhea. In fact, diarrhea is the most common illness spread through recreational water,” the CDC stated.  “Tiny amounts of poop are rinsed off swimmers’ bottoms as they swim through the water. If someone with infectious diarrhea (which can contain up to one billion germs) gets in recreational water, germs can be washed off their bottom and contaminate the water. These germs can make someone else sick if they swallow even a small amount of contaminated water.”

Diarrhea can be caused by germs such as Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli O157:H7. Some of these germs can survive in properly chlorinated water for almost an hour, or even days.

Properly maintained pool water can kill those germs, but it takes time.

In public pools, water playgrounds, and hot tubs, disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) and filtration work together to help kill germs. Chlorine and bromine kill most germs within minutes, and filters remove debris (e.g., leaves, sticks), which use up the needed chlorine or bromine. Swimmers may still be exposed to germs during the time it takes for the chlorine or bromine to the kill germs or for the water to be recycled through filters. And certain germs, like Crypto, can stay alive for days, even in pools with proper filtration and disinfection.

To make their point, the CDC crafted two pretty disgusting cartoons to gross you out.

Essentially, the CDC wants you to think of number one, next time you see a kid do number two in the pool.


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