Swimmers Beware: Fecal contamination a concern in hot weather


Vanderbilt doctors are reminding pool-goers of heightened fecal contamination in hot weather.

William Schaffner, M.D. and professor of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt, said fecal contamination can spread and lead to bacteria or viruses. The risk is heightened in the hot weather.

Schaffner said it's important to keep water safety in mind.

"The most common problems people get while swimming are intestinal infections, either bacterial or viral," he said.

The most common bacterial cause of illness contracted while swimming is Shigella, according to Schaffner, the most common viral cause is Norovirus.

Some symptoms that come with water-related illnesses are Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and sometimes fever. Schaffner said symptoms don't always show up right away and sometimes take hours, leading people to think it may not be water related.

There are some precautions to take, Schaffner says to check out the pool before your kids get in. A poorly maintained pool can lead not only to intestinal problems, but also other unpleasantness, such as a skin infection caused by pseudomonas bacteria.

"Does it have clear and clean water? If not, you should reconsider getting in," he said.

Schaffner added that this shouldn't take away from anyone's enthusiasm for the pool, and with a few precautions, everyone can be safe.

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