When good pools go bad
Newsflash - sometimes gross stuff happens… in public pools. I share this news with you not because of the fact that feces were found in a public pool, but because the fecal material was allegedly “put into” the pool on purpose! I pride myself on being germ-aware, just a short step away from being a germaphobe. But, public pools or pools that allow swimmers who may not yet have control of their bowels or understanding of the importance of site selection for bowel movements, are things that I avoid.
So, if we consider the purposeful placement of fecal material in inappropriate places from a veterinary perspective, it becomes a common occurrence. Neighbors that do not get along may have large dogs that are engaged in the neighborhood dynamic and are happy to commit their unique passive-aggressive super power to the cause.
Not to mention, feral cat colonies and their passion for sandboxes and gardens. These scenarios have in common is the incredible opportunity for public health catastrophes. Fecal material from any creature is something to be avoided when possible and handled appropriately with personal protective equipment (PPE) fully engaged.
As veterinarians, veterinary technicians, or animal care folks, it is important to recognize our unique vulnerabilities to zoonotic disease. It is also critically important to help clients recognize that not only is fecal material inappropriate in pools, it is also inappropriate in areas where children play, such as parks, pools, playgrounds, etc. Who is supposed to remind the public about this? Your friendly neighborhood veterinarian, of course!
Please continue to embrace your inner public health official and beat the drum of zoonoses awareness. And, I cannot believe I am writing this, refrain from defecating in public pools!
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