Web Zap*Germs Archive

June 10, 2003

First Jaws -- Now "Recreational Water Illness!"

It's finally warm enough (at least on the US East Coast) to think about dipping into a pool. But the ever-vigilant Washington Post reminded me that public pools are really vast breeding pots of dangerous bacteria that cause RWI - Recreational Water Illness. As a father, I've had to deal with the infant-pooping-in-the-pool problem, and apparently that's (fecal matter!) the big cause of RWI. It's tough to make sure kids are clean "down there," as the Post delicately puts it -- but how many adults are clean "down there" when they dive in? How many people have you ever seen taking the REQUIRED pre-dip shower? We're all guilty, I suppose.

Apparently swimmers do a better job of keeping water out of their mouths in lakes and the ocean -- thinking that a pool's chlorine will zap the germs. However, the chlorine isn't always that effective, sez the CDC, which has a website area devoted to RWI, full of helpful info for pool staff (staph?) and civilians alike. (Speaking of kids, chlorine and pools, did you hear that a recent report blames childhood asthma on the chlorine they dump in swimming pools?)

Now if they could only address the other big public-pool water problem: SSB (Salty Scum Buildup) from too much suntan lotion melting off waterlogged bodies.