Reading about recreational water illnesses can be somewhat unsettling, even if you have a private pool. After writing four posts in a row about those discouraging prospects (see Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4), we decided to share some encouraging news with you. Contrary to popular belief, head lice, MRSA staph infections, and pinworm infestations cannot be typically spread through swimming pool water. Not certain that you agree? Read more in the sentences that follow.
Although head lice can live in environments with high chlorine content, such as swimming pools, they are very unlikely to spread through the water. Even if the hair is submerged in water, lice are unlikely to release their hold because they depend on that “hold” to survive. However, because head lice enjoy jumping to textiles and other similar surfaces, there is a chance that they could transmit from one person to another if towels are shared.
You actually don’t have to worry too much about the spread of lice as long as you maintain a rigorous “no sharing” policy when it comes to towels, swim caps, or hair care equipment and accessories. In addition, note that soaking hair in pool water after using an anti-lice shampoo can prevent the treatment from being effective, so it’s advisable for those with head lice to avoid the pool for at least a few days.
Staphylococcus aureus MRSA, sometimes known as “staph,” is an antibiotic-resistant form that is easily transmitted through open wounds and cuts. Similar to the situation with head lice described above, MRSA cannot be transmitted from person to person through water, but it can be transmitted through sharing contaminated surfaces and other means. The transmission of MRSA and head lice differ significantly in that MRSA cannot thrive in well kept pool water, at least not for very long.
If you’re not aware of MRSA symptoms, these sores on the skin’s surface resemble boils or pustules which have an appearance similar to spider bites. These tender, warm-to-the-touch sores can swell up and become quite unpleasant. MRSA patients frequently also experience fevers in addition to skin lesions.
Pinworms can survive in chlorinated water, just like head lice, but you shouldn’t be concerned about pinworm illnesses spreading through your pool water. Swallowing pinworm eggs, typically after coming into contact with infected surfaces, results in pinworm diseases. Even while the eggs can survive in common pool water, swallowing them would be extremely rare even if someone did consume some pool water.
Since kids are most prone to contract an infection, it’s crucial to encourage hand washing and other grooming practices like regular bathing, short, clean fingernails, and frequent undergarments, pajamas, and swimwear changes.
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