Swim­ming Lessons: For Starters, Watch Out for Germs in the Wa­ter

Kid­die pools are the big­gest of­fend­ers, in­fec­tious dis­eases ex­pert says

The Jewish Voice - - HEALTH - Edited by: JV Staff

Adip in a pool, stream or lake on a hot sum­mer day is re­fresh­ing, but take some pre­cau­tions to avoid bac­te­ria and par­a­sites that might lurk in the wa­ter.

"One of the worst of­fend­ers is the kid­die wad­ing pool," said Dr. Christo­pher Ohl, a pro­fes­sor of in­fec­tious dis­eases at Wake For­est Bap­tist Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Win­ston-Salem, N.C.

"Warm, shal­low wa­ter and kids in swim di­a­pers -- which don't do a good job of con­tain­ing fe­ces -- can cre­ate a per­fect breed­ing ground for wa­ter-borne in­fec­tions even though the wa­ter is chlo­ri­nated," he said. "The best way to pre­vent young chil­dren from get­ting sick is to keep them from swal­low­ing that wa­ter." Ohl of­fered some other tips: • For starters, keep chil­dren who have had any type of gas­troin­testi­nal ill­ness away from pools or wa­ter parks for sev­eral days to pre­vent con­tam­i­na­tion of the wa­ter.

• Don't swal­low the wa­ter when you're in fresh­wa­ter lakes or streams. It can con­tain threats such as lep­tospiro­sis, a bac­terium ex­creted in the urine of mam­mals that drink from the wa­ter. In­fec­tion can cause fever with headache or mus­cle aches, but it's usu­ally treat­able, Ohl said.

• An­other po­ten­tial threat is Nae­g­le­ria, a rare but deadly brain-eat­ing amoeba that is al­most im­pos­si­ble to treat. To avoid it, don't jump feet first into a warm, stag­nant pond, es­pe­cially dur­ing a very dry sum­mer. Do­ing so can push wa­ter up into the top of the nose where the amoeba can crawl through to get into the brain, Ohl ex­plained.

• Salt wa­ter poses a lower risk from bac­te­ria and par­a­sites, but swim­mers should stay out of the wa­ter if they have a cut or wound that could be­come in­fected.

• Also, stay away from jel­ly­fish float­ing on top of the wa­ter in the ocean.

"Most peo­ple don't re­al­ize that the ten­ta­cles of some jel­ly­fish, es­pe­cially Por­tuguese man-of-war, can be 10 to 15 feet long, so keep a safe dis­tance to keep from be­ing stung," Ohl said.

For starters, keep chil­dren who have had any type of gas­troin­testi­nal ill­ness away from pools or wa­ter parks for sev­eral days to pre­vent con­tam­i­na­tion of the wa­ter.

A dip in a pool, stream or lake on a hot sum­mer day is re­fresh­ing, but take some pre­cau­tions to avoid bac­te­ria and par­a­sites that might lurk in the wa­ter."One of the worst of­fend­ers is the kid­die wad­ing pool," said Dr. Christo­pher Ohl, a pro­fes­sor of in­fec­tious dis­eases at Wake For­est Bap­tist Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Win­ston-Salem, N.C.

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