How You Can Lower Your Child's Risk of Getting Sick at the Pool, According to the CDC
The CDC's latest report came to some alarming conclusions about swimming-related disease outbreaks. Here's what parents need to know going into pool season.
Getting sick from a day at the pool is all too common an occurence, and now, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined info parents should be aware of as we head into swimming weather.
According to the findings, which came from data collected between 2000-2014, 1 in 3 swimming-related disease outbreaks occur at hotels. Most of the outbreaks in swimming venues were due to three types of bacteria: Cryptosporidium (also known as “Crypto”), Pseudomonas, and Legionella. Crypto is particularly insidious, as it can survive in rather high levels of chlorine and more than seven days, according to Michele Hlavsa, R.N., M.P.H., lead author and chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. Meanwhile, Pseudomonas and Legionella are bacteria that can survive disinfectants in slimy areas of hot tubs, pools, and water playgrounds.
The report notes that during the time period studied, there were 493 outbreaks reported, and those resulted in at least 27,219 illnesses and eight deaths. More than half of outbreaks started in the summer, the peak season for swimming. Young children are disproportionately affected, as they often spend so much time at swimming pools when school is out, Hlavsa notes. "That's who we see in the pools all summer all week long," she tells Parents.com.
Again, she points to Crypto as the main culprit in causing illness among L.O.s. "Swallowing just a mouthful of water with Crypto in it can make otherwise healthy kids and adults sick for weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting,” Hlavsa said in a CDC statement. “Chlorine cannot kill Crypto quickly. We need to keep it out of the water in the first place. Don’t go into the water, and don’t let your kids go into the water, if sick with diarrhea.”
She also advises parents take the following precautions to protect themselves and loved ones from germs when swimming in pools, soaking in hot tubs, or visiting water playgrounds:
- Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea. If Crypto is the cause of the diarrhea, wait until 2 weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
- Check the pools, hot tubs and water playground inspection scores.
- Before getting in the water, use a test strip from your local retailer or pool supply store to check if the water’s pH and bromine or free chlorine level are correct.
- Don’t swallow the water.
- Take kids on bathroom breaks hourly, and change diapers in a diaper-changing area and away from the water.