DISCLAIMER: Not for The Faint Hearted

If you have a weak stomach, read with caution…
Recently, and frequently, we have had a ‘Code Brown’ in our Tanglewood Pool. Intentional or accidental, animal or human, there is a protocol that has to be followed to keep swimmers from contracting Shigella, Norovirus, and/or E. Coli.

Steps to take: Close the pool.  (Mr. Obvious), put on disposable gloves (one would hope so), remove the contaminate using a net or bucket, Clean as much of it as possible from the item used to scoop it up and dispose of it in a sanitary manner. Our pool cleaners/ decontaminators are doing an excellent job in keeping us safe. (They’re sure getting enough practice)!

People have asked, Can you really get sick from poop in the pool? According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), just a small mouthful of water contaminated by any of these germs (Shigella, Norovirus, and E. Coli), can make you sick. Those with weak immune systems also have a higher risk of getting sick from E. Coli. [July 7, 2016].  How do we know its ‘poo’ in the pool?  The E. Coli is a marker for fecal contamination. finding a high percentage of E. Coli positive filters indicates swimmers frequently contaminate pool water when they have a fecal incident in the water or when feces rinse off of their bodies because they do not shower thoroughly before getting into the water.

What kind of infections can you get from a swimming pool? How do you want to hear the news; sugar coated, or right between the eyes? (Harrison Ford). RWI’s (Recreational Water Illness)-I’m not making this stuff up folks.”RWI’s can be one of a wide variety of infections; gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurological and wound infections. (That was sugar coated). The most common reported RWI is diarrhea; an illness that can be caused by germs such as Crypto (short for Cryptographic),not to be mistaken for Cryptonite (Superman’s weakness). Giardia, Shigella, Norovirus, and E.Coli 0157H7″ Jan 25,2017.

To be fair, young kids are more likely to get sick from pool water because they end up swallowing the water, so think back to when you were little.You may have spent most of your childhood in public pools, odds are you never got seriously ill from bacteria or parasites in there.

Some research has been looked into on how well swim diapers and swim pants are able to keep the brown stuff and infection-causing germs from leaking into the pool. Even though swim diapers and swim pants might hold in some solid feces 1, they are not leak proof. Swim diapers can delay diarrhea-causing germs, like Cryptosporidium, from leaking into the water for a few minutes, but swim diapers do not keep these germs from contaminating the water 2. No manufacturer claims these products prevent leakage of diarrhea into pools. 

Here’s another pleasant thing to think about while playing water volleyball, swimming laps, or morning water exercises. Realize that about 17% of people surveyed have admitted they’ve peed in a public pool before. Be honest, if 17% admit to it, there must be way more people who aren’t admitting to it. Have you EVER used a pool for the bathroom?

Did you know that a chemical can be added to pool water so when a person urinates in it, the water turns green all around them immediately? How about bringing in a  ‘black light’ to detect feces on your hands? Since no nude bathing is allowed, the brown stuff had to be ‘pulled out’ of the swimwear or “thrown in” the pool. (Where’s the hand sanitizer?) Perhaps a walk through the pool area at mid morning would give us a clue.

Finally, who’s turn is it to keep watch at the pool from midnight to 4 am? Are we checking our visitors for green pool bands? Little ones can wear them on their ankles. Maybe there should be new rule: No one wearing diapers/pull-ups allowed in the pool? That includes adults.  If you need that protection, please protect us, and stay out of the pool.

At our age, we’ve been exposed to all sorts of bacteria, and the majority of it won’t make you ill. Oh, and by the way, the whole ‘don’t swim for an hour after you eat’ thing?  Totally bogus. have your Popsicle and eat it too, just not in the pool.

As my favorite cartoon character “Maxine” would say. ‘The trouble with pool water this time of year is you don’t know if it’s warm from the summer sun… or something else!  See you at the pool?




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Pam Batey

Moved to Tanglewood in August 2016, with husband, Steve and dog, Maggie. Retired Paramedic, now continuing my hobby writing short stories and information in the "You and Your Health" Section of the newsletter. Active Member of Tanglewood Community Church.