Diarrhea and swimming don’t mix!


Summer means pool time fun for many youth. Unfortunately, it can also mean increased risk for recreational water illness (RWI), the most common of which is diarrhea. Last year, Franklin County experienced one of the largest outbreaks of a RWI caused by Cryptosporidium, which lasted through summer and into the fall.

Swimmers, who are sick with diarrhea or who have been sick in the last two weeks, are at risk for contaminating pool-water with germs. Certain germs that cause diarrhea can live from minutes to days in pools, even if the pool is well-maintained. Swallowing even a small amount of water that has been contaminated with these germs can make you sick. Tiny amounts of fecal matter are rinsed off all swimmers’ bottoms as they swim through the water. This is why it is so important to stay out of the pool if you are sick with diarrhea.

Swimmers should shower before swimming, avoid swallowing pool water and wash their hands. If you have diarrhea, avoid swimming in pools, lakes, rivers, water fountains, etc. until the diarrhea has stopped. To help protect the health of others, wait an additional two weeks. Microscopic amounts of infected fecal matter can contaminate an entire pool or hot tub and make others sick if they swallow the water. Always wash your hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom. This is one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of diarrheal illnesses.

Source: Franklin County Public Health Dept.