Many public swimming pools will open this Memorial Day weekend.
Leading up to the summer months, St. Louis County Public Health Department inspectors have been busy checking pools to make sure they are safe for families. They are looking at safety equipment, depth markings, gates, and, of course, water quality.
They are particularly keeping an eye for parasites and bacteria in the water that can make swimmers sick.
“Chlorine is not going to kill it all and it’s not going to kill it right away. And that’s what people need to understand. That’s why it’s really important for you to be clean when you’re entering the swimming pool,” said Carrie Dickhans, Environmental Health Director at St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
Dickhans said her department is contacting pool operators and urging them to remind guests to shower with soap, before hopping in the pool.
“Because anything that is on your body is going to get into the pool and especially the areas that are covered by a swim suit. You need to make sure you’re showering those areas because the fecal, oral route is what is causing these diarrheal illnesses,” said Dickhans.
The department is aware there is a growing concern about cryptosporidium, which they describe as basically a parasite that is resistant to disinfectants. The CDC saw the number of cases linked to “crypto” double in some states between 2014 and 2016. Dickhans said in the county, 18 cases were reported last summer, compared to 15 the year before. While they don’t consider that to be an alarming spike, they do have a plan when a case is reported.
“If we do have any cases that are of a diarrheal illness that are associated with a swimming pool, we do automatically have them close and then we superchlorinate so we can make sure any type of diarrheal illness will be killed, including and up to cryptosporidium,” said Dickhans.
She is also reminding swimmers not to drink the water and also avoid putting toys that have been in pool water in their mouth.
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