Friday, June 26, 2009

Healthy tip

You Can't Count on Chlorine
Simple steps to avoid infections at the pool.

Posted by Susannah at MSN Health

As a child growing up the Midwest, the neighborhood swimming pool offered sweet relief from summer's oppressive heat and humidity. And while I recall being grossed out by the occasional warm patch in the water, my mother assured me that the pool's chlorine would kill any dangerous germs. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), however, reveals that illnesses can spread even in well-maintained pools, so it's up to everyone to keep recreational water illnesses (RWIs) under control.

According to the CDC, RWIs include a large variety of illnesses including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections, but the most common illness is diarrhea. And while chlorine does kill most of the germs that cause these problems, it can take several hours. The same is true of salt water.

Certain populations are more at risk for RWIs than others. Children, pregnant women, organ transplant recipients, people receiving chemotherapy and those with otherwise compromised immune systems are most at risk for serious illnesses if infected with an RWI.

So what can you do to keep yourself safe? The CDC offers valuable tips for swimmers and parents.

As far as what we all should do to reduce the occurrence of RWIs, Michele Hlavsa, an epidemiologist in the division of parasitic diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN that "a big health message is not to urinate or pee in the water." The CDC offers these additional tips:

* Do not swim when you have diarrhea.
* Do not swallow pool water.
* Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
* Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
* Change diapers in a bathroom or changing area—not at poolside.
* Wash your child thoroughly with soap and water before swimming.