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To swim or not to swim

Wednesday 27 January 2021Media release2 minutes to read

Cantabrians are being urged to stay out of the water if they’ve been sick or are feeling unwell to help limit the spread of gastro illnesses

This week’s stretch of hot weather serves as a good reminder that the end of January and right through the month of February is typically the hottest period of the year for us here in Canterbury.

These hotter temperatures make taking a dip in a nice cool swimming pool very appealing and as the start of the school year approaches, school pools will become especially popular.

When it comes to pools, the main way people can become ill is through contact with infected or polluted water.

So to reduce the chances of people getting sick, Cantabrians are being urged to stay out of the water if they’ve been sick or are feeling unwell to help limit the spread of gastro illnesses.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink explains that people assume chlorine will kill everything, but Cryptosporidium and Giardia in particular are resistant to the standard chlorine dosages you find in most pools.

“People can become ill by sharing a swimming pool or spa with a person who has had a recent gastro infection and hasn’t fully recovered from the illness.

“Most people who contract gastro infections experience symptoms such as watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps and nausea, vomiting and fever. Others, who have weakened immune systems, can develop serious, chronic, and sometimes fatal illness.

“These symptoms can occur on and off for weeks – which is why we are asking people to respect a stand-down period of two weeks after their symptoms subside, during which they should avoid swimming in pools or sharing a spa. This is to ensure they have fully recovered and are no longer infectious,” says Dr Pink.

The key things to remember if you have had a serious gastro bug are:

  • Stay away from pools and spas for at least two weeks after you feel better
  • Even if you haven’t been ill, always shower before entering the pool
  • Report any ‘code browns’ immediately – community pool operators can clean as needed and apply a stronger dose of chlorine to the area to make it safer.

ENDS

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Page last updated: 27 January 2021

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