Poo in the Pool! New animation highlights healthy swimming practices

A new animation by a Swansea University researcher has highlighted healthy swimming practices to help avoid illness linked to the parasite cryptosporidium, which can sometimes be found in swimming pools.

Hannah Marie Jones, a PhD student at the College of Human and Health Sciences  studied the subject for her MSc Public Health and Health Promotion and helped create the animation which helps to raise awareness of how to avoid illness caused by cryptosporidium, sometimes known as crypto.

Hannah said: “Most people who suffer sickness and diarrhoea often blame it on something they ate, but it could come from a swimming related illness. Crypto can also cause these symptoms and is not killed by normal chlorine levels, which is the most widely used pool water disinfectant. Outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis most commonly happen when a person who has had sickness and diarrhoea goes swimming without fully recovering and contaminates the pool water which is subsequently swallowed by other swimmers. This is a clear health concern for swimmers, health agencies and leisure centres.”

Her research surveyed parents of young children in south Wales and found that two thirds did not know of cryptosporidium while one third had heard of it but could not explain it. When asked about the possible implications of cryptosporidium, many people that had heard of it knew it could cause illness but were not fully aware of what could be done to help safeguard against it.

The research found that parents would welcome advice being highlighted at swimming pools and leisure centres.

The animation gives practical tips on how to avoid contracting and spreading cryptosporidiosis such as:

  • Shower before swimming
  • Avoid swallowing water
  • Ensure babies wear swim nappies
  • Take toddlers and young children for regular toilet breaks
  • Inform pool staff of any ‘poo in the pool’ as soon as possible
  • Avoid swimming for 48 hours after suffering from sickness and diarrhoea
  • Avoid swimming for 14 days after suffering from cryptosporidiosis

The research animation can be found here