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  • All the Illnesses and Diseases Your Child Can Get From Swimming in a Crowded Pool

    Not sure if the pool is properly chlorinated? You might want to reconsider getting in
    by Jillianne E. Castillo .
  • If you need proof how pool-obsessed Filipinos are during summer season (and a gauge of how hot Philippine weather is), just take a look at the photos above. It comes from the RAVE (Rainforest Adventure Experience) Facebook page that shows its swimming pool last April 15, a Sunday.

    Now, an editorial staff of SmartParenting.com.ph who has been here said this pool was huge. The place also offered various amenities (gardens, a playground, a waterpark for kids, etc.) that made it an enjoyable place to spend a weekend. 

    It was probably the reason why at 11 a.m., this was already the size of the crowd where kids and adults were literally standing shoulder-to-shoulder around the pool steps. The attraction was definitely the affordable entrance fee at Php150 for adults and Php100 for children below 3 feet. And if you were a resident of Pasig, deduct Php50 from the fees. It was so packed with people that management had to limit the entry of guests looking to take a dip.

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    When we saw the photos we couldn't help but ask: how safe and sanitary would it be to swim in a pool with this many people? Common diseases people can get after swimming in pools include ear infections (when water gets trapped in the ear canal causing bacteria to grow), athlete’s foot (when walking around barefoot on moist floors) and respiratory problems (when the steam coming from warm water such as a Jacuzzi is contaminated).

    Diarrhea, however, is the one to watch out for the most. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Just one person with diarrhea can easily contaminate the water in a large pool or water park.” It follows that the more people there are, the higher the chances that someone sick with an infection is swimming in the same pool as you.

    “Swallowing even a small amount of recreational water that has been contaminated with feces containing germs can make you sick,” said the CDC. These germs include norovirus, E. coli, and Leptospira. Children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are also more prone to Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) or sicknesses you get from pools, water fountains, seas, lakes, and other bodies of water where people swim. 

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    But, chlorinated pools can kill bacteria, right? Yes, but certain conditions must be met, says the CDC. First, the pool has to have right concentration of chlorine and pH level (too high and the ability of chlorine to kill germs decreases) to help keep swimmers from getting sick with RWIs. 

    Also, the time it takes for chlorine to kills germs varies. “In pools and hot tubs with the correct pH and disinfectant levels, chlorine will kill most germs that cause RWIs in less than an hour,” said the CDC. But, for others, it can take a while. The microscopic parasite Crypto (Cryptosporidium), for example, can stay alive in well-maintained pools for several days. 

    “Swallowing just a mouthful of water contaminated with Crypto can make otherwise healthy people sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration,” added CDC said. In the U.S., Crypto is one of the most common causes of RWIs. 

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    Swimming with family can be a fun and enjoyable experience that can make long-lasting memories. Knowing about RWIs shouldn’t deter pool-goers, but should make everyone practice better pool hygiene and become more cautious of pools that do not look well-maintained. 

    Here are tips to remember when swimming to help avoid RWIs and its spread:

    • Do not swim if you have diarrhea
    • Shower before getting in the pool. Don't forget this! “Rinsing off in the shower for just one minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on your body,” says the CDC
    • Take the kids on bathroom breaks every hour. (When having fun, they may rather pee in the pool than leave it!)
    • Check diapers every hour and change diapers in the bathroom or changing area
    • Remind children not to swallow the pool water and to tell mom or dad if they feel the urge to pee or poop while swimming

    Always keep an eye on your child while in the pool, and don't forget the sunscreen, too!

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