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9 January 2014

Pool owners warned of disease risk

Pool and spa owners are being warned to take precautions to avoid potentially fatal disease risks as the weather heats up.

WA Health issued a reminder to pool owners to ensure water is properly treated and maintained so swimmers avoid catching amoebic meningitis.

WA Health Environmental Health Acting Director Richard Theobald said the rare but potentially fatal disease could be contracted when recreational water contaminated with the amoeba bug entered the nose.

"Amoeba thrives in warm water temperatures between 28 degrees and 40 degrees," Mr Theobald said.

"Pool and spa owners should closely monitor and check 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 (search for "Keeping your swimming pool and spa healthy").

Media contact: 9222 4333

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