CDC warns parents to keep sick kids from contaminating pools

With summer vacation in full swing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning parents to not allow their sick children to swim in pools or in large bodies of water to prevent further contamination and spread of disease. 

"It only takes one person with diarrhea to contaminate the entire pool," the CDC warned in a tweet posted on July 1. 

"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," the CDC’s website states. 

The most notable germs that are commonly linked to pools are crypto and norovirus, according to the CDC. 

Crypto is a parasite that is encased in a hard outer shell that provides it with ample protection, even from chlorine, the CDC said. The parasite is able to survive up to seven days in properly maintained pools and if infected, a person can suffer diarrhea for up to two weeks. 

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Norovirus, commonly referred to as the stomach flu or stomach bug, is very contagious and is commonly spread through water, the CDC said. 

People who are infected with norovirus will see symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting within 24 hours of contracting the disease but will normally get over it within one to three days. 

The CDC recommends parents who have healthy children that wish to partake in water activities to use chlorine testing strips which are readily available at hardware stores and pool supply stores. 

The testing strips allow people to see the pH balance and chlorine levels in public pools and waterparks. The agency recommends following manufacturer instructions to determine water cleanliness. 

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The agency also advises parents to check their children’s diapers regularly and take frequent bathroom breaks to avoid any contamination. Shower before entering a public pool or water playground and avoid swallowing water, the CDC added. 

Any parents who do have sick children suffering from diarrhea are advised to stay away from public pools or water playgrounds until symptoms disappear. 

"We all share the water we swim, play, or relax in, so each of us plays a key role in helping to protect ourselves, our families, and our friends from germs that can cause diarrhea," the CDC’s website says.