Use your senses against waterborne germs

Use your senses against waterborne germs

A day at the pool or hitting the slides at local water parks are what make summer fun. But did you know there could be a host of waterborne germs lurking under the surface that may pose a threat to your health?

A waterborne illness can result from swallowing, breathing or having contact with contaminated water. Polluted water can be found everywhere even in your neighbor’s pool, hot tub, a water park and other public water spots.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools in the United States. More than 1 in 10 of those pools fail routine inspections each year for not using chlorine and other pool disinfectants for sanitization.

“Recreational water illnesses are spread commonly from person to person from small amounts of swimmer’s fecal matter that enters the water system,” said Dr. Rosalind Downing, pediatrician on staff at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. “In most cases, the diseases you may get aren’t life-threatening, but serious conditions can result.”

Dr. Downing says to take note of any unusual side effects after swimming including red eyes, skin rash, earache and diarrhea.

“If a swimming pool is not properly sanitized, it can become a breeding ground for germs,” Dr. Downing said. “I believe that everyone should take necessary precaution when it comes to water illness.”

Dr. Downing recommends the following tips by using your senses to evaluate pool water before you enter it:

  • Sight – Make sure the pool looks clean and clear all the way to the bottom.
  • Touch – Place your hand in the water to see if a film forms on your hands.
  • Smell – The chlorine and other chemicals in the pool should not have a strong odor.
  • Sound – Listen for any equipment that may be cleaning the pool.

The CDC also encourages you to shower before and after water activities for added protection.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.