On a blistering hot summer day, most people don’t think twice about jumping into a pool for a refreshing swim to cool off. Whether it’s a community pool, a neighbor’s, or even the one in your very own backyard, swimming pools harbor some health hazards you should be aware of, especially if you already suffer from liver disease.
You may already know that hepatitis B and C are transmitted through direct blood contact. But another strain of this virus, hepatitis A, is transmitted in a very different way – through fecal matter. Sometimes you’ll hear about hepatitis A being spread through contaminated food at restaurants, which is likely the cause behind those signs you see in restaurant bathrooms that say “All employees must wash their hands.” Poor personal hygiene is a primary cause of hepatitis A transmission. However, this liver infection may also be lurking much closer to home – in your swimming pool.
As much as we’d all like to believe it doesn’t happen, there are times when fecal matter gets into pool water. This happens more often with young children. When this occurs, the water becomes contaminated and the possibility of hepatitis A infection grows.
But how can you tell if the water you’re about to jump into has been contaminated? If it’s your own pool, be diligent about sanitation and chlorination to keep your water in the best shape possible. If it’s a community pool, a quick evaluation will tell you how clean the water is; some things to look for are the clarity of the water, the feel of the pool walls, and the smell it gives off.
Hepatitis A is not the most threatening strain of hepatitis, but it’s not a gentle virus. If infected, you may be stricken with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever and fatigue. Luckily, there is a vaccine available for hepatitis A. Learn more about hepatitis A transmission in swimming pools, and what you can do to keep your pool as clean as possible.