Diseases You’ll Get From An Unclean Pool

Keeping a Pool Clean for a Healthy You

Summer is just around the corner. Before jumping on your pool to freshen up, make sure it’s not just visibly clean but sanitized as well. Just like humans, germs love swimming in the pool too. Once they come in contact with your skin or get inside the body, they can cause serious health conditions.

The problem with germs is that they are invisible to the naked eyes. Even if the pool looks clean, germs are still present, patiently waiting to get inside their victim’s body. If you have a weak immune system, you will end up in hospital beds for weeks or even months. The menacing effect on vulnerable groups like children can be more disturbing.


Harmful Microorganisms in the Pool

Germs of all shapes and sizes love hanging out on your pool too. They come in different types like viruses (hepatitis A and norovirus), bacteria (Shigella species; E. coli), and parasites (Cryptosporidium and Giardia). These microorganisms can cause illnesses with similar symptoms like upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

The most common source of these germs is human and animal fecal matters. When swimmers accidentally drink water with poo in it, these germs can get inside the gastrointestinal tract where they live and multiply. An adult swimmer contributes to a small amount of poo, about 0.14 g. on an average. However, a baby or a toddler can put more feces in the pool that swimmers can swallow.

On average, an adult swimmer swallows two tablespoons of water during a 45-minute swim. Children take double that amount. Once ingested, these germs thrived on the host’s gastrointestinal tract and lived there until they’re pooped out, starting their life cycle again.


Diseases Caused by Dirty Water


Cryptosporidiosis is the most common pool-borne disease not just in the US but all around the world. This disease is caused by cryptosporidium parasites, a bug that can stay alive in water for days. They are chlorine resistant which makes them difficult to kill. When they enter your body, they swim into your small intestine and then burrow into the walls. The result – loose bowel movement, stomach pain, vomiting, or sometimes, even fever. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away. People with a weak immune system, especially those with AIDS or cancer, can show a more adverse effect of cryptosporidiosis. In some cases, it can even lead to death.

The only way to remove this diarrhea-causing parasite is to shock the pool with a high chlorine concentration for 12 hours. Since the normal level of chlorine has no effect on cryptosporidium, adding a high amount of chlorine is the only way to kill them. If you don’t know how to clean your own pool and shock the water with chlorine, you might need to hire a professional pool cleaner to help you.


This disease is caused by another pestering parasite – the giardia. Giardia can live in the intestine until it’s pooped out and can survive in a chlorinated pool for 45 minutes. Symptoms of giardiasis include diarrhea, gas, soft and greasy stool, cramps, and dehydration.


This water-borne disease is caused by a group of bacteria called shigella. People who swallowed and infected by shigella develop diarrhea. Aside from the usual loose bowel movement, other symptoms include fever and stomach ache that usually exhibit a day or two after the exposure. Usually, shigella stops within five to seven days. Those with a robust immune system may be infected but may not show any symptoms at all.


Norovirus is highly contagious and is spread through food and water, including pool water. It causes your stomach and intestines to get inflamed, resulting in stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Norovirus is responsible for many horror cruise ship stories, especially during the summer season.

E. coli

There are many ways to catch E.coli, and drinking pool water by accident is one of them. The source of E.coli in pool water is poop, which comes from the swimmers themselves. When you are infected by it, you will experience severe diarrhea and abdominal pain for five to 10 days.

Other minor health conditions caused by dirt water include ear infection, allergic rhinitis, and skin irritation.


Cleaning a Swimming Pool

Now that you know the different illnesses you get from dirty water, here are ways to ensure pool sickness safety.

Skim the pool surface

Manually skimming the water surface with a flat skimmer net is excellent in removing foreign objects like leaves, twigs, and insects. You should do this, if not every day, at least every other day, to ensure that the pool is free of contamination.

Brush around the pool

After skimming out the debris, the next step is to clean the sides, floors, and ladders using a pool brush. Use a telescopic pole to brush hard-to-reach areas. You can do this once a week.

Use a robot vacuum cleaner

Robotic pool cleaners help keep your pool perfectly clean. They work independently, meaning it has its own filter to take out debris without the need to turn on your pool’s filter system. They are effective in removing debris from the bottom and sides of the pool. With a robotic vacuum cleaner, you can clean your pool anytime you want.

Clean the filter

Remove debris and grime from your pool filter to prevent them from contaminating the water. A clean filter system helps clean the pool more effectively.

Test the water’s pH level

The water’s pH level is critical to prevent eye and skin irritation and activate the chlorine to fight harmful microorganisms. The recommended pH level is between 7.4 to 7.6. If the water’s pH level is below or higher than this range, please adjust it accordingly.

Add chlorine tablets

Add chlorine tablets depending on how big your pool is. A 3-inch chlorine tablet can sanitize a pool with 7,500 to 10,000 gallons of water for seven days.




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Written by HealthStatus Crew
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus teams with authors from organizations to share interesting ideas, products and new health information to our readers.

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