We’ve often seen news stories of cruise ship passengers returning to port after being sickened by a ‘stomach bug’ that produces nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. The culprit is usually norovirus, one of a group of viruses that affect the stomach and lining of the large intestine, and are responsible for most cases of gastroenteritis, according to the CDC. Norovirus illnesses sicken between 19 million to 21 million people every year.
Originally called the Norwalk virus after the location of the first outbreak in Norwalk, Ohio, norovirus is not limited to cruise ships and can be transmitted anywhere people are in close quarters (such as nursing homes, day care centers or other public places). These viruses are stalwart and extremely contagious and are able to withstand extreme temperatures in water or on surfaces. Norovirus can survive in water for months or even years. People contract the virus by touching contaminated surfaces or through contaminated, raw or undercooked food or drinks. In a recent report, the CDC reported that norovirus may also be spread by people who are ill with norovirus who go swimming in lakes, rivers or pools and vomit or have diarrhea in the water. The water becomes contaminated and other swimmers who swallow the water become infected.
It is important to keep germs out of the water in the first place. Here are other things you can do prevent norovirus from making you or your family ill:
• Always wash hands carefully with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing diapers or before handling, preparing or eating food
• Keep young children (children younger than 10 years old) out of water that you suspect may be contaminated or water that has not been treated with chlorine. The risk is higher in ponds and lakes than in well maintained pools.
• Do not swim if you have been sick with diarrhea or vomiting, and do not allow children who have been sick to swim.
• Check diapers and take children for regular bathroom breaks. Be sure to stress no peeing or pooping in the water.
• Change kids’ diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area to keep germs away from the water.
• Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes or pools.
• If you have your own pool, monitor the water chemistry and maintain appropriate disinfectant levels. Check automatic chlorination systems to ensure that they are in proper working order.
MyPool.com has all the equipment you need for testing your pool’s chemistry, and we sell many products to help keep your pool clean and properly disinfected. We sell test kits by Taylor, AquaChek and All Clear. To assist with pool chlorination we sell: Carefree Ionizers, Hayward and AutoPilot Chlorine Generators. For help keeping your pool clean we have automatic cleaners from manufacturers like Hayward, Barracuda, Letro and Polaris. Also, be sure to keep your filter in top running condition, replace filter cartridges ever 2-3 years, change your DE powder, and backwash your sand filter when the pressure increases 3-5 pounds above the clean pressure. At MyPool.com we have an array of chemicals help to simplify the process of maintaining balance and to ensure your pool is sanitary.
Take proper precautions, keep your pool clean and well-maintained, and have fun!