Dead skin, hair, sweat, and even bodily fluids find their way into the water when we swim. “Adults shed an average of 0. 14 g of feces each swim, which is the equivalent to the weight of one pea,” said Kelly Reynolds, professor and germ specialist at the University of Arizona. However, dirt and bodily fluids don’t usually pose a danger to other swimmers as the germs tend to be harmless.
It’s true that the chlorine used in a swimming pools also makes bacteria, viruses, and any other germs harmless. But unfortunately, there are some extremely aggressive pathogens that may be a serious threat to swimmers’ health. They find their way into the pool water, which then infects other swimmers.
For example, it can be risky to go swimming after suffering from diarrhea. Once recovered, you should avoid going swimming for two weeks. “Even if you feel better and don’t have the symptoms, you can still be shedding millions, even billions, of diarrhea germs into the pool,” Prof. Reynolds said. You also have to take a shower before swimming and ensure that you don’t swallow any water.
But a worrying study from the United States has shown that most people don’t stick to these rules. One in four adults would go to a public swimming pool despite having an acute case of diarrhea. Half of the respondents also admitted to either rarely or never showering before swimming, and three out of five adults said that they had swallowed water when swimming.
The current situation in the United States shows how dangerous not keeping to these rules is. For example, poor hygiene practices can spread an untreatable illness called cryptosporidium. The parasites are transmitted from person to person in the pool water. If you swallow the water and/or have a weak immune system, you’re putting yourself at particular risk. Infected people suffer from symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach pains, and weight loss for up to two weeks. There’s no cure for this illness.