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Faecal Release In Leisure & Swimming Pools


TA has been alarmed by the recent news circulating in relation to British holidaymakers defecating on purpose in pools at various holiday destinations in Europe and North Africa. The increased frequency of these incidents at a number of sites suggests that they are more than just accidental and the threat to bathers from the spread of bacteria via these actions is colossal. STA strongly recommends that British holidaymakers cease this craze of ‘logging’ in pools. This activity is deplorable and the culprits should be dealt with severely by both the holiday operator and the hotel management. To understand the potential risk to innocent bathers of this revolting and bizarre new craze, it is important to distinguish between dangerous and non-dangerous organisms.


THE RISKS? Firstly, it is important to note, a solid stool is a sign that no infectious organisms are present. Loose or smeared faecal releases are the forms of stools that cause pool plant operators the biggest potential risks of serious infection.

When loose or smeared faecal release occurs in swimming pools or water parks, a number of organisms can be introduced. Even non infective organisms can place a burden on the pool plant efficiency, increasing the volume of chemicals required and the time it takes to return to acceptable water quality standards.

Let us look at the organisms that could be introduced and possible scenarios that could

present risks to bathers: 1. Cryptosporidium a unicellular protozoa which can have serious gastro intestinal implications. This parasite can produce severe diarrhoea and dehydration resulting in serious illness. As a matter of interest, infection is often put down to poor food hygiene, when often the source is from the pool. This parasite is extremely resistant to normal disinfectants used i.e. chlorine based. In turn, this requires pool closure often up to a day. This organism is normally taken in by oral ingestion as the eggs tend to float.

2. Giardia very similar organism to Cryptosporidium and the symptoms include severe diarrhoea. Its resistance to free chlorine disinfection is not as strong as Cryptosporidium.

3. Total Coliforms can increase their presence in swimming pool water after defecation via a loose, runny stool. This has the potential to increase gastrointestinal problems for bathers if water containing these Coliforms is ingested by bathers. Remember these Coliforms cannot be seen by the human eye and could still exist hours, even days, after release by the bather. Escherichia coli ‘E.coli’ is one of these Coliforms that exist within our faeces, and if contracted symptoms can range from mild gastroenteritis to severe bloody diarrhoea.

4. Other virus such as Enterovirus, Adenovirus, Shigella and other viral and

bacterial enteric pathogens can all be transmitted via fouling in public pools.

5. Pseudomonas Aurigonosa is not normally associated with faecal release, however, poor hygiene of the pool tank and associated plant can cause skin infections and in extreme cases blindness.


Along with tourists, travel companies, hotels and holidaymakers we want to ensure everyone enjoys their holiday abroad. We do not want holidaymakers to suffer these symptoms especially from a preventable occurrence such as people deliberately defecating in pools.

As a minimum, Holiday Operators / Hotels Pool Operators need to: 1. Impose significant sanctions on culprits 2. Provide good signage, informing of the implications of such actions, including uncontrolled faecal releases in pools, water features etc

3. Ensure guests shower before entering the pool

4. Remind guests not to go swimming within 48 hours of being unwell with loose runny stool

5. Enforce a double nappy with swim nappy system for babies

6. Provide adequate, clean nappy change stations, with cleansing beds etc next to the pool

7. Rigorously, and at the required frequency, test pool water for free chlorine and pH

8. Ensure staff have an acceptable EAP for liquid stool events, and ensure the EAP is strictly applied in all faecal release events. Also ensure there are appropriately trained pool plant staff on duty during opening hours.

For further information on pool plant training and advice on faecal releases in pools, please contact the STA or come and see us at Leisure Industry Week at the NEC, Birmingham – 30 September to 2 October, where once again STA will be hosting live pool testing demonstrations in the Swim Zone. SPN

STA 01922 645097 SPN October 2014 41

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