Public pools are a good alternative to beach swimming, especially when beaches are not that accessible. While having a good time in a pool is good for our health, it is also wise to be cautious at the same time. Hence, let’s educate ourselves about RWIs or Recreational Water Illnesses.

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The germs and chemicals found in the water we swim in are the ones causing RWIs. These are being spread through swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans. So it is not okay to think that chlorine in pools kills all germs instantly. There are germs today that can survive even in areas high in chlorine.

Most Common RWI Infections

Diarrheal Illness – the most common RWI. These are caused by certain types of bacteria that live in pools for days, even if the pool is well-maintained. All it takes is for someone to swallow a small amount of contaminated pool water.

Rashes – once the skin is in contact with contaminated water for long periods of time, a rash can occur. Sometimes, rashes occur within a few days of being in a poorly maintained pool, hot tub or spa, or contaminated lake.

Ear Infections – if there is contaminated water left in the ear after swimming, chances are, you will get an ear infection. This is also known as “swimmer’s ear” or otitis externa. It is not the same as the common childhood middle ear infection.

Respiratory Infections – swimmers can also be at risk for respiratory infections if they breathe in steam or mist from a pool or hot tub that has harmful germs. This infection is caused by the germ called Legionella. It is not spread from one person to another. Rather, it is naturally found especially in hot water.

Chemical Irritation of the Eyes and Lungs – these are caused by pee, poop, and sweat in pools.

All of us are responsible for each other. So we should all do our part when in public pools, hot tubs, spas or lake. We should not pee or poop in the water.