On Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a very important message for anyone planning to swim this summer: Don’t poop in the pool. Also, try not to be in a pool where someone else has pooped. At least, if you can avoid it, don’t swim with your mouth open in a pool if you, or someone else, has pooped nearby.
These are just a few of the ways you can try to avoid getting norovirus—a nasty and highly contagious stomach virus that sometimes makes its way onto cruise ships—as you enjoy all sorts of aquatic activities that are not limited to pools. Lakes have high levels of poop-related-risks it seems, as the CDC announcement describes how some people in Oregon swam in a lake last year and ended up getting the virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. The outbreak ended up sickening 70 people, some of whom didn’t even swim in the lake (state health officials found, however, that swimmers were over twice as likely to get sick).
Other important tips include not peeing in the water, not vomiting in the water, and maybe skipping swimming that day if there’s a chance you might do any of those things.
This important message comes in honor of Healthy and Safe Swimming week and is mostly geared toward children (or parents of children) who are not only more at risk for norovirus but are also prime suspects of doing things in water that one shouldn’t do. They also, apparently, are bad at swimming with their mouths closed. Per the CDC’s press release:
“Children are prime targets for norovirus and other germs that can live in lakes and swimming pools because they’re so much more likely to get the water in their mouths,” said Michael Beach, Ph.D, the CDC’s associate director for healthy water. “Keeping germs out of the water in the first place is key to keeping everyone healthy and helping to keep the places we swim open all summer.”