Child passes bloody stools after swimming in pool: Need for pool hygiene

Here's the full story on why this child had bloody stools after swimming.

We often question the hygiene levels of public areas, such as restrooms. As such, we are careful to carry wet wipes and hand-santizer with us when we need to use them with our kids. But do you exert the same level of caution when you bring your child to a public swimming pool? If you don’t already, you definitely will after reading this eye-opening story. Parents, the next time you want to have some aquatic fun with your children, do take note of the potential hazards in a swimming pool first.

Potential hazards in a swimming pool all parents should take note of

Recently, a mom from Indonesia was horrified when she discovered her young son’s bloody diarrhea was connected to his time swimming in a public pool. She is urging other parents to be aware of the potential hazards in a swimming pool — including contracting a parasitic infection.

Swimming fun turned to nightmare

potential hazards in a swimming pool

Ms Ochan warns all parents about the potential hazards in a swimming pool. Source: Ochan’s original facebook post

Ira Tarina Ochan, the mother in question, recounts the horrifying incident as follows:

A warning for all parents to be more vigilant when letting their babies swim in the pool. This happened to my little one.

We sincerely only wanted to make our little one happy, so we listened to him when he wanted to go swimming. During our holiday we went to swim in a pool not too far from where I live. However, without warning, the happiness we expected had instead turned into a catastrophe for my little one, like rice turning to porridge.

Within a few hours after returning home after swimming, my son immediately went to use the loo, but fresh blood accompanied his stools. We immediately took him to the nearest clinic.

Three days elapsed but his condition did not improve. At that instant, I brought him to a pediatrician in a hospital near our house, not thinking very far ahead. The doctor commented that there was a wound on his anus, but I highly doubted it since his anus appeared fine. It had no injuries — only slightly reddened, perhaps due to frequent bowel movements.

Another week passed after our visit to the pediatrician, but my son’s condition still did not improve. His stools contained a lot of fresh blood — not just a drop or two — as evidenced from his diapers. 

At this instant I began feeling a bit hopeless. Tears started streaming down my face. Exactly which mom wouldn’t be heartbroken at the sight of their little one suffering from bloody stools for over a week, without any change?

What caused the bloody stools is horrifying

Ms Ochan continues:

Negative thoughts crossed my mind about my baby — exactly what kind of illness is my son suffering from? My husband and I immediately took action, bringing our son to the hospital at Hermina Grand Wisata. Upon arrival, I explained the situation in chronological order,  from the beginning to end. As soon as I finished, the doctor decided that my child should be treated.

The nurse then took a blood sample from his stools, which were to be examined in the laboratory for an accurate diagnosis of the disease.

The next day, the doctor explained the laboratory results. 

Oh Lord, my husband and I have never been so shocked in our lives. The doctor told us that our little one had been infected by a microorganism called an Amoeba and that the bacteria had in fact eaten into his intestines, injuring it.

I took the opportunity to ask the doctor exactly what this Amoeba was, and where my little one contracted it from. A dismal chill ran down my spine as the doctor explained that a possible source was swimming pool water, when accidentally ingested.

It is with happiness that we report Ms Ochan’s child’s discharge since her initial post. He has very likely made a full recovery and is back on his feet.

Do amoebas really cause bloody stools?

We referred this case towards Dr. Meta Hanindita, a specialist pediatrician. After hearing the story above, Dr Meta explains that this child has been diagnosed with amoebiasis, which is an infection by the parasite Entamoeba hystolytica. The parasite can attack the intestines and other organs outside of the intestine.

“If this parasite infection attacks the intestine, expect various symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloody and slimy stools, nausea, vomiting, and others,” added Dr. Meta.

How do children contract the disease?

Most children who suffer from amoebiasis have initial exposure to the bug because they ate or drank something contaminated with the parasite. Pool water that has been previously contaminated with the bacteria can easily cause amoebiasis in children when accidentally ingested.

potential hazards in a swimming pool

Don’t forget to pause and think about pool hygiene before taking that first dip! Stock: file photos

The parasite is common though, living in the human colon but not causing any symptoms. However, sometimes, Entamoeba hystolitica can eat through the intestinal walls, leading to the child defecating bloody stools.

Amoebiasis is a contagious disease. Living in an unclean and unhygienic environment poses a risk of this disease spreading rapidly. One method of transmission is through physical contact, such as from shaking hands with infected people. Thus, ensure that your child always washes their hands before eating, after playing, or after shaking hands with others.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the transmission of amoebiasis. However, you can minimize the spread of amoebiasis symptoms.

Tips for parents to avoid potential hazards in a swimming pool 

Parents, we understand that you might be worried about allowing your little one to have fun in the pool after hearing Ms Ira’s story. Fret not! Here are some tips you can follow if you want to prevent potential hazards in a swimming pool from making your child ill:

  • Check the pool’s condition before swimming. Make sure you know how regularly the pool is cleaned. If you know the exact schedule, we recommend that you visit the swimming pool after each scheduled pool clean.
  • Teach your children not to swallow the pool water. Explain to them the potential risk of contracting diseases if they swallow pool water.
  • Make sure the child is fit before going for a swim. The body is more susceptible to infection by parasites while in a sub-optimal state.
  • Give your child a shower with clean water and soap as soon as they are out of the pool.

We at theAsianparent hope that this article on potential hazards in a swimming pool has been helpful in preventing further cases of amoeba infection.  

Also read: 9 safe ways to take your baby swimming with you

Republished with permission from theAsianparent Indonesia. Translated and further edited by Kevin Wijaya Oey.