Hepatitis Central

The latest research & treatment news about Hepatitis C infection, diagnosis, symptoms and treatments.

Get the Nutrients You're Missing for Optimal Liver Health

Hepatitis Transmission and Swimming Pools

Nicole Cutler L.Ac.

August 14, 2007

Print this page

Learn why a certain hepatitis virus can pose trouble in communal waters, as well as ways to prevent and minimize this swimming pool risk.

For millions of overheated Americans, the perfect summer activity involves a swimming pool. According to U.S. census data, swimming ranks as the second most popular exercise activity in the country. In the age of seemingly mysterious illnesses infecting every age, sex, race and income bracket, sharing the same body-enveloping fluid as strangers can initiate fear of communal waters. Whether in the backyard, local recreation center, fitness club, neighborhood pool or vacation hotel, swimming is a healthy pursuit deserving of an equally healthy, water-filled basin.

As one of the most prevalent infectious disease categories today, a growing number of people are concerned about exposing themselves to a hepatitis virus by swimming in a pool. However, there is only one hepatitis-related danger to swimming in a pool, and infection is preventable.

Hepatitis Risk

Although approximately 10 percent of people infected with a hepatitis virus are unsure of how they contracted it, scientists do know which bodily fluids can transmit the different strains of hepatitis illnesses. While there are three prevalent hepatitis viruses, only one has the potential to contaminate a maintained pool.

  • Hepatitis A – Since this virus is primarily transmitted via fecal matter, this is the hepatitis strain that could become a problem in a swimming pool.
  • Hepatitis B – Transmitting this strain of hepatitis is not a concern for swimmers because it involves blood-to-blood contact.
  • Hepatitis C – Transmitting this strain of hepatitis is not a concern for swimmers because it involves blood-to-blood contact.

Hepatitis A

A self-limiting viral infection of the liver, hepatitis A typically does not cause chronic disease. While hepatitis A causes liver inflammation, most people’s livers can fully recover without any long-term damage. However, people already afflicted with chronic liver disease are more susceptible to serious illness as a result of hepatitis A infection. Since this disease is caused by a virus, it does not respond to antibiotics.

The most common symptoms of hepatitis A include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Low-grade fever and loss of appetite
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice and dark urine
  • Liver pain

Transmitted primarily by the fecal-oral route, hepatitis A infection can occur by swallowing pool water containing feces. Additionally, hepatitis A is a potential problem when large numbers of people congregate and where overcrowding and inadequate sanitation exist. Because hepatitis A is easily spread by raw sewage, it can become a danger in the recreational swimming environment when:

  • a person accidentally has a bowel movement in the pool
  • sewage systems become overburdened from heavy rainfall or flooding and infects swimming waters.

Once someone has hepatitis A, lifelong immunity is established preventing re-infection with this disease. For those who have never contracted this virus, the hepatitis A vaccination provides immunity.

Prevention

In addition to getting vaccinated for hepatitis A, there are ways to minimize swimming pool risks. Proper chlorination to kill waterborne germs, good sanitation practices and suitable personal hygiene in and around the swimming area can make the difference between a healthy and unhealthy swimming experience. According to CDC epidemiologist Dr. Michael Beach, “It’s crucial that public health professionals, pool operators and the general swimming public work in partnership to increase everyone’s chances for healthy swimming experiences.”

  • Disinfecting – Water filtration is not an effective means of removing contamination from a pool in a timely manner. The ability to kill pathogens in the water is based on the contact time a pathogen has with a disinfectant and the concentration of the disinfectant. While a majority of systems rely on chlorine, there are a few disinfectant alternatives. Considered to be moderately chlorine-resistant, experts approximate it takes chlorine at least 16 minutes to kill hepatitis A in pools that do not use stabilizers such as cyanuric acid. Additionally, all pools should maintain a stringent policy for water disinfection in case any fecal matter is detected.
  • Evaluate the Pool – Before diving in, first evaluate the pool’s hygiene. The water should appear clean and clear, with painted stripes on the bottom clearly visible. The pool walls should feel smooth, not sticky or slippery. Listen for pump and filtration system noise to confirm the pool equipment is working. Lastly, smell the pool. Contrary to popular belief, a well-chlorinated pool has little odor. A heavy chemical odor is typically due to chloramines, not chlorine. The well-known strong chlorine odor means that unhealthy chloramines have formed in the water, created from the mix of chlorine and contaminants. Chloramines are not as effective in disinfecting swimming pool water.
  • Don’t Swallow – Since hepatitis A is spread through the fecal-oral route, infection typically involves swallowing contaminated pool water. Teach children and train yourself not to swallow pool water – and even avoid getting it in your mouth.

As swimming continues its popularity as a preferred summer activity, people can take control of their health by being a hepatitis A prevention advocate. Make sure your swim spot is well maintained. Inform pool personnel about any concerns you have. Especially important for people already living with some other form of liver disease, refrain from getting pool water in your mouth. In addition, make sure you are protected with the hepatitis A vaccine in case you are exposed. By being educated about the potential for hepatitis A infection in a swimming pool, you can avoid being affected by this liver illness.

References:

www.cdc.gov, Chlorine Disinfection Time Table, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.

www.cdc.gov, Pool User Information, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.

www.ehagroup.com, Diseases Acquired via Recreational Bathing (Public Swimming Pools), EHA Consulting Group, Inc., 2007.

www.havuz.org, Waterborne Pool Illnesses, Larry Katz, 2007.

www.healthstate.mn.us, Public Swimming Pools, Minnesota Department of Public Health, 2007.

www.healthypools.org, What You Think You Know and What You Should Know About Healthy Pools, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Consumers League, the Water Quality and Health Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council and the National Spa & Pool Institute, 2007.

www.medicalnewstoday.com, Make a splash for public health this summer – Swimming pool health, MediLexicon International Ltd., 2007.

www.pponline.co.uk, A quick look at the medical hazards of swimming in pools, P2P Publishing Ltd., 2007.

Save 20% + free shipping

Posted by Nicole Cutler L.Ac. on August 14, 2007

Requirements for using and reposting articles

  • *BloodyLai*

    if that person who has a hep c and is accidentally poop on the pool even a small substance.. yes that is possible that the people who will dive in the pool will be infected.. let’s just say that person is not performing a good physical hygiene, then you can really say that factor might drive to the source of having hep c

  • *BloodyLai*

    correct me from my last email.. the first thing i said was hep c… it was supposed to be hep A that the other people will be vulnerable through poop or fecal matter… hep c is just contagious when that person has cuts or open wound and that blood goes to an open wound or any pore of another person then u can get hep C..

Site Topics

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Some of our most commonly asked questions and our answers to them.

  • Hepatitis News

    Tthe latest news on hepatitis treatments, clinical trials, social issues and important breakthroughs.

  • What Is Hepatitis C?

    Learn about the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).

  • Hepatitis C Symptoms

    You'll find links to a comprehensive symptoms list, as well as various studies and discussions about Hepatitis C symptoms.

  • Hepatitis C Transmission

    Information about the transmission of Hepatitis C.

  • Hepatitis C Genotypes

  • Learn about Hepatitis C Genotypes and their variants.

  • HCV Viral Load

    Provides detailed information on how to analyze and interpret viral load numbers as well as a link to a convenient Viral Load Chart.

  • Liver Enzymes

    Learn about the importance of testing liver enzyme levels and causes of abnormal levels.

  • Lab Tests

    What they are and what they mean. Helps you interpret & understand all the various hepatitis lab tests likely to be encountered.

  • Hepatitis During Pregnancy

    Learn how hepatitis infection may affect the pregnant mother and baby.

  • Hepatitis C Conventional Treatment

    Learn about the conventional medical treatments used to fight Hepatitis C.

  • Hepatitis C Medicines

    Numerous links to studies, info sheets, FAQs, and analysis of Ribavirin/Rebetron medicines.

  • Hepatitis C Alternative Therapies

    Alternative methods of treatment due to side effects and dissatisfication with current medical treatments.

  • Hepatitis C Natural Remedies

    A number of herbal products useful in the management of liver disease.

  • Top 5 Liver Supplements

    Provides information regarding the best known liver supporting supplements.

  • Top 5 Milk Thistles

    Provides information regarding the best known milk thistle supplements.

  • HCV Diet

    A basic diet for those with Hepatitis C.

  • Hepatitis C Survivor Stories

    Survivor stories that have been shared to benefit others with Hepatitis C.

  • Cirrhosis

    Many discussions and analyses of cirrhosis, including causes, complications, pathology, symptoms, and much more.

  • Hepatitis C Doctors

    A state-by-state and worldwide reference listing physicians who treat HCV, including an email link to submit your physician for inclusion.

  • Hepatitis C Community External link

    A Bulletin Board for discussions on hepatitis, treatments, etc.

Advertisement