While there are plenty of RWIs you want to be cautious about spreading through your swimming pool, we thought we’d offer a silver lining: there are some infections that are pretty unlikely to spread through pool use — and they might surprise you! If you’ve been at all worried about fostering the spread of pinworm infections, head lice, or MRSA through your backyard swimming pool, you really don’t need to worry about them.
Pinworm infections happen when people swallow pinworm eggs — typically as a result of interaction with contaminated surfaces. The good news is that while swimming pool chlorine levels aren’t high enough to kill pinworm eggs, related infections are highly unlikely to be spread through pools, where a small number of pin worms may be found in thousands of gallons of water.
Preschool-aged and school-aged children are those most at-risk for pin worm infections, and you can help reduce the chances of those infections by encouraging hand washing, keeping fingernails short and clean, requiring daily bathing and changing of underwear or swimsuits as well as regular changing and washing of pajamas.
Like pinworms, head lice can survive chlorine levels in swimming pools. However, because they survive by keeping their grip on human hair, they’re fairly unlikely to loosen their grip simply because the hair is immersed in water. However, head lice can be spread through poolside items such as towels, which have come into contact with a person’s hair, so it’s alway best not to share towels, caps, or hair care items.
Also note that if you have undergone treatment with anti-lice shampoo, it’s best to avoid swimming for at least a couple days, simply to allow the treatment to work effectively. (For more information about the treatment of head lice, see this page.)
MRSA Staph Infections
MRSA stands for an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus or “staph” for short. MRSA spreads most easily through uncovered scrapes or cuts. Like head lice, MRSA doesn’t typically spread through water; however, it can be spread by having direct contact with someone infected with MRSA, sharing contaminated items, or coming into contact with surfaces also used by those infected with MRSA. (Unlike head lice, though, MRSA cannot survive long in properly maintained pool water.) Often mistaken for spider bites, MRSA infections affect the skin, appearing as boils or pustules. Typically, these sores appear red and swollen and are both painful and warm to the touch. In addition to these skin infections, those affected by MRSA often have a fever.
By greatly limiting those who have access to your own backyard swimming pool, you reduce the risk of getting many illnesses and infections that can be introduced to public swimming pool water and the surrounding environment.
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