A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a high percentage of E. coli-positive filters indicated swimmers frequently contaminate pool water when they have a fecal incident in the water or when feces rinses off their bodies because they do not shower thoroughly before getting into the water.
CDC officials said to help protect swimmers and others from germs:
-- Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
-- Shower with soap before swimming.
-- Take a rinse shower before getting back into the water.
-- Wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
-- Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30–60 minutes.
-- Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing area, not at poolside where germs can rinse into the water.
-- Check the chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
Most superstores, hardware stores and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips or order free pool test strips from Water Quality & Health Council's Healthy Pools website.
The CDC said: Proper chlorine levels should be 1–3 milligram/liter and a pH of 7.2–7.8 to maximize germ-killing power.
"Contrary to popular belief, chlorine and other disinfectants do not kill germs instantly. Once germs get into the pool, it can take anywhere from minutes to days for chlorine to kill them," the CDC said in its website. "Before they are killed, these germs can cause recreational water illnesses, such as gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. Swallowing just a little water that contains these germs can make people sick."