Danger in Summer Water Play

Reporter: Shannon Samson

You may think it's a no-brainer that kids shouldn't play in standing water that looks muddy or dirty. But what about water in your swimming pool or even your bathtub?

In some cases, those places can be a breeding ground for bacteria just as easily. You never know if raw sewage is flowing into an open ditch, so kids should stay out of that kind of water.

But swimming pool water is full of chlorine, so it's safe, right? Not necessarily, according to Dr. Tony Schapker. "There are certain organisms that can still live in chlorinated water. There's something called cryptosporidium that there's been some outbreaks in the country in some public pools and this is a parasite that is not affected by chlorine."

The New England Journal of Medicine just published an article about a toddler who swallowed several gulps of stagnant water squeezed from a bath toy in an outdoor wading pool and ends up with a giardia infection. Cholera, typhoid and shigellosis are all a threat in standing pool water. The pseudomonas bacteria can even stay alive in warm bath water.

Most organisms only cause mild gastrointestinal infections, but some can be serious. A certain type of e-coli can cause something called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Dr. Schapker says, "It affects the kidneys. They'll have bloody diarrhea and then start developing renal failure, kidney failure and there is a fairly high mortality rate for children who get it."

Luckily, that's a rare one. But to keep your kids safe, the pediatrician says tell them not to swallow pool water, even if it's chlorinated. And when pool time or bath time is over, the toys should come out and the excess water squeezed out.

And don't let your child be the one who ruins it for other kids. Pediatricians say if they have diarrhea, they don't belong in a public swimming pool or a kiddie pool with other kids for two weeks. That's how long the virus that caused the illness can spread.