June 7, 2017
Health department adds a follow-up recommendation to “Don’t Poop in the Pool,” warns swimmers, “Don’t Drink the Water”
(SALT LAKE COUNTY)— The Salt Lake County
Health Department (SLCoHD) kicked off its annual Healthy Swimming season by
echoing the CDC’s newest recommendation that swimmers keep the water they swim in
out of their mouths. Last month, the CDC announced that Cryptosporidium outbreaks
in the U.S. have doubled since 2014 (from 16 in 2014 to 32 in 2016), though
Salt Lake County crypto cases remain lower than average thanks to conscientious
swimmers and effective pool operators.
The national increase in outbreaks, along with
swimmer survey information, led the CDC to add a follow-up recommendation to
their usual “Don’t Poop in the Pool,” now also warning swimmers, “Don’t Drink
“A recent survey found that one in four adults
(25%) have gone swimming within one hour of having diarrhea,” explained Rick Ledbetter, SLCoHD water
quality supervisor. “And 1 in 5 (20%) admit that they pee in the pool. That
doesn’t include adults who don’t admit it, or children who may not know better!”
Other statistics show that
of adults (52%) “seldom or never” shower before swimming in a pool.
average swimmier has about 10 grams of fecal matter (poop) on their body at any
(that’s 10 million microbes or about the weight of 4 pennies).
in five adults (60%) admit to swallowing pool water while swimming.
“Data also suggest that swallowing fewer than
10 crypto organisms can result in becoming infected,” Ledbetter says, “so it
doesn’t take much water in your mouth to make you sick.”
On average, adults swallow about 1 tablespoon
of pool water. Kids swallow over double that amount with 2.5 tablespoons. One
small sip of fecal-contaminated water could make you sick for up to three weeks
with nausea, vomiting or watery diarrhea.
Crypto is the most common cause of diarrheal
illness linked to swimming pools and water playgrounds because it’s not easily
killed by chlorine, and it can survive up to 10 days in chemically treated
water. UV filtration is a more effective method of killing crypto, but it can
take time to run all the water in a large feature through a UV filtration
Those challenges are why educated swimmers
remain the #1 defense against crypto and other waterborne illnesses, and health
officials remind swimmers to wash thoroughly—especially backsides—immediately
before entering a pool or water feature.
“It’s best to keep poop out of the pool in the first place, so wash often and
wash well,” said Ledbetter. “And in case others aren’t as responsible as you—keep
the pool water out of your mouth.”