Regional News

Recreational water users warned of disease risk

As the weather warms up, pool and spa owners are being warned to take precautions to avoid potentially fatal disease risks.

Managing Scientist Richard Theobald said it was very important for pool owners to make sure that the water in their pools was properly treated and maintained to protect swimmers from the deadly amoebic meningitis.

He said the rare but fatal infection caused by Naegleria fowleri could be contracted when either fresh or poorly treated water contaminated with amoeba entered the nose.

“As amoeba love to grow in warm water temperatures between 28 degrees and 40 degrees Celsius, everyone should assume that any warm, fresh water could potentially contain Naegleria fowleri amoeba,” Mr Theobald said.

“People swimming in natural freshwater pools should enter the water carefully so that water is not forced up the nose.” “Pool and spa owners should closely monitor and check that chlorine levels are within a safe range.

“Wading pools should be changed after each use as this water provides the perfect environment for the amoeba to grow. “Owners using pool covers may also need to check their water more frequently as the covers may cause water temperatures to rise more quickly.”

Mr Theobald said the risk of amoebic meningitis could be reduced by taking some simple precautions including: staying out of dirty pools, spas, waterholes and dams ensuring pools are kept clean, free of dirt and leaves, and are properly chlorinated testing water in swimming pools at least twice a day making sure pools that do not use a stabiliser contain at least two milligrams per litre of chlorine (four milligrams per litre where a stabiliser is used) ensuring pH levels are kept between 7.2 and 7.6 keeping wading pools clean and only using the water once.

Information about amoebic meningitis is available through local government environmental health officers, WA Health’s Environmental Health Service on 9388 4999, and on the Healthy WA website www.healthywa.wa.gov.au

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