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"Wild" Pools Risks and Contamination


Now when pools are open, or should I say uncovered, we have more and more phone calls about wildlife removal from the pool (and if you're reading this and might need us in the future, we don't offer this service). We can sure help animal out of the pool but we don't do relocations and for that you have to call your state wildlife agency. Wildlife is well monitored and controlled and for most work related you need to be licensed. Only recently I learned in VA is illegal to own most common read eared slider turtle, as most salmonella cases had them as pets and also, they are highly invasive, and you don't want to be tired of it and release it the first pond you find.

Animals in the pool - finding wildlife in your pool is very common and every pool owner can confirm that. Homeowners go to great lengths to ensure that animals stay away from it, and some states even regulate specific measurements you have to take.

Most common animals you'll find in our region (DC, MD, VA) are creatures like frogs, snakes, turtles, racoons, squirrels and chipmunks and birds. Usually the procedure is very simple, remove the animal, raise your chlorine levels in the pool and keep going with your day. However, finding a racoon or it's poop in your pool changes this procedure and this is why: I will copy CDC guidelines about this.


Finding a Dead Animal in the Pool Most dead animals in pools do not pose a health risk to swimmers. If you find a dead animal in the pool, following the simple removal and disinfection steps below will help ensure healthy swimming in the pool. Dead raccoons in pools can pose a health risk to swimmers. This is because raccoons might be infected with a worm called Baylisascaris, which can be spread to humans. For more information, go to CDC’s Raccoons and Pools page. What types of dead animals are found in swimming pools? Many types of domestic and wild animals — including skunks, birds, mice, gophers, rats, snakes, frogs, and bats — are commonly found dead in pools. Do dead animals in pools pose a health risk to swimmers? Most dead animals in pools do not pose a health risk to swimmers. Many germs carried by animals infect only those animals, though a few of the germs they carry can infect people. Most germs carried by animals are killed by chlorine within minutes in a well-maintained pool. However, to help ensure healthy swimming in a pool where a dead animal has been found, it is important to follow the simple steps below to remove the animal and disinfect the water. What should I do if I find a dead animal in the pool?* Follow these steps to remove the animal and disinfect the water:

  • Close the pool to swimmers.

  • Put on disposable gloves.

  • Use a net or bucket to remove the dead animal from the pool.

  • Double bag the animal in plastic garbage bags.

  • Clean off any debris or dirt from the item used to remove the dead animal.

  • Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags.

  • Close the garbage bags and place them in a sealed trash can to help keep wild animals away from the dead animal.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately.

  • Raise the free chlorine concentration to, or maintain it at, 2 parts per million (ppm); maintain the pH levels at 7.5 or less; keep the temperature at 77°F (25°C) or higher. The free chlorine and pH should remain at these levels for 30 minutes.

  • Confirm that the filtration system is operating properly during this time.

  • Disinfect the item used to remove the dead animal by immersing it in the pool during the 30 minute disinfection time.

*These cleaning and disinfection steps are for animals commonly reported to be found dead in pools. Pre-weaned calves and lambs are often infected with Cryptosporidium, a chlorine-tolerant germ, and could pose a health risk to swimmers if found dead in a pool. After removing a dead calf or lamb from the pool, a professional must come to hyperchlorinate the water. Contact your local health department for advice because hyperchlorination protocols should performed by a professional.


Birds and Pools

Many types of birds are attracted to swimming pools. As a result, swimmers might come in contact with bird droppings (poop) while in the pool. If you find bird droppings in the pool, there are a few simple steps you can take to disinfect the water and keep birds away from the pool.

Can bird droppings in the pool spread germs to swimmers? Many germs that might be found in bird droppings can infect humans. Duck and goose droppings, in particular, might contain germs such as E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, or Cryptosporidium (“Crypto” for short). Most germs in bird droppings are killed by chlorine within minutes in a well-maintained pool. The germ Crypto, however, has a tough outer shell that allows it to survive for a long time in the environment. Crypto can survive for days even in properly chlorinated pools. Currently, CDC is not aware of any evidence of Crypto being spread directly from birds to humans.

What should I do if I find bird droppings in the pool? Pool operators and owners should respond to finding bird droppings in the pool the same way they would respond to finding formed human feces (poop) in the pool. The Healthy Swimming Program’s Fecal Incident Response Recommendations [PDF – 4 pages] provide step-by-step guidance on how to properly decontaminate the water in these situations.

Follow these steps to remove bird droppings and disinfect the water:

  • Close the pool to swimmers.

  • Put on disposable gloves.

  • Remove the bird droppings using a net or bucket. Do not vacuum the droppings from the pool.

  • Clean off any debris or dirt from the item used to remove the bird droppings.

  • Disinfect the item used to remove the droppings by immersing it in the pool during the 30-minute disinfection time described below.

  • Remove and dispose of gloves.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately.

  • Raise the free chlorine concentration to, or maintain it at, 2 parts per million (ppm); maintain the pH level at 7.5 or less; keep the temperature at 77°F (25°C) or higher. The free chlorine and pH should remain at these levels for 30 minutes.

  • Confirm that the filtration system is operating properly.


How can I keep birds away from the pool area? The following steps can help encourage birds, other than ducks and geese (more information on ducks and geese is provided below), to leave the swimming pool area:

  • Remove plants that produce edible nuts, fruits, and berries.

  • Remove bird feeders.

  • Trim or remove trees and shrubs to limit branches hanging around or over the pool that can be used by roosting birds.


How can I keep ducks and geese away from the pool area? Do not feed ducks or geese; providing food attracts them and encourages them to return. Many types of ducks and geese eat grass, so reducing the area of grass lawns around the swimming pool or putting up barriers that prohibit movement between swimming pools and grass lawns, such as fences and hedges, might also help. Removing domestic ducks and geese from the pool area can also help decrease the likelihood that wild ducks and geese will be attracted to the area. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has additional information on how to manage ducks and geese (also known as waterfowl) in their document Assistance with Waterfowl Damage. [PDF – 3 pages]

What can I do to get rid of ducks and geese already in the pool area? In the United States, most birds, including ducks and geese, are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws. Local laws might also apply. Therefore, legal options for dealing with birds are limited and may require a permit. Consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and your state wildlife agency for more information.


Raccoons and Pools Raccoons can be pests and can spread germs to humans. It is important to keep raccoons out of your pool and watch for raccoon feces (poop) in and around your pool. Raccoon feces can sometimes contain the eggs of a worm called Baylisascaris procyonis, which can infect humans, particularly children, and cause severe neurologic illness. What is Baylisascaris? Baylisascaris is a roundworm parasite that commonly infects raccoons. Raccoons infected with Baylisascaris can be found in all parts of the United States.1–13 When people are exposed to Baylisascaris eggs they can become ill. What illness does Baylisascaris cause? Baylisascaris infections in people are very rarely diagnosed. Swallowing a few Baylisascaris eggs can result in no or few symptoms. However, swallowing a large number of eggs can result in severe disease that affects the nervous system or eyes.14–17 How is Baylisascaris spread? The parasite is spread by swallowing Baylisascaris eggs, which are found in the feces of raccoons that are infected with Baylisascaris. People can be exposed to Baylisascaris eggs in soil, water, or on objects that have been contaminated with feces from an infected raccoon.14–17 Additional information on the disease can be found on the CDC Baylisascaris Website. What should I do if I find raccoon feces or a dead raccoon in my pool? Although chlorine in pools will kill most germs that a raccoon could carry into the water, it does not kill Baylisascaris eggs. If raccoon feces or a dead raccoon are found in the pool:

  • Close the pool to swimmers. Then

    • Test the raccoon or its feces for Baylisascaris. If the feces or raccoon tests positive for Baylisascaris, clean the pool as described in the following sections. OR

    • Clean the pool as described in the following sections, if you do not want to test the raccoon feces.


How should I test raccoon feces for Baylisascaris?

  • Put on disposable gloves and collect the feces or retrieve the dead raccoon. Double bag the feces or animal in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.

  • Contact Animal Control (the local government agency in charge of animal issues) or your local health department about testing raccoon feces for Baylisascaris eggs. The only way to find out if a raccoon is infected with Baylisascaris is to test the feces.

  • If the lab test shows evidence of Baylisascaris eggs, then you need to clean your pool as described below. If the lab test is negative, you do not need to clean your pool as described below.

How do I clean my pool if it has been contaminated with Baylisascaris? Because Baylisascaris eggs are particularly tough, adding chlorine to the water will not kill them. If a lab test has confirmed that the raccoon was infected with Baylisascaris or you don’t know if the raccoon was infected because the raccoon’s feces were not tested, there are two options for cleaning your pool. *Remember to close the pool to swimmers until you have finished cleaning the pool. Option 1:

  • Filter the pool for a minimum of 24 hours and then backwash the pool filter.

  • Put on disposable gloves to replace the material doing the filtering (if possible). Double bag the discarded material in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.

Option 2:

  • Backwash the pool filter.

  • Drain and hose down the pool.

  • Put on disposable gloves to replace the material doing the filtering (if possible). Double bag the discarded material in plastic garbage bags. Remove gloves and place them in the garbage bags. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards

  • Refill the pool.

What can I do to keep raccoons out of my swimming pool? Raccoons usually choose certain locations to defecate (poop) and then use those same places repeatedly. Raccoons can also be attracted to areas where humans live and play. In pools, raccoons usually defecate in the shallow areas (for example, on the steps). Here are some tips for keeping raccoons out of your pool:

  • Cover the pool area that has been visited by raccoons.

  • Keep the fence around the pool closed.

  • Find out if anyone in your area is feeding raccoons, leaving pet food outside, leaving uncovered trash outside, or using trash cans that are not properly secured. Discourage this behavior as it could be attracting animals, particularly raccoons, to your pool.

  • Contact Animal Control (local government office in charge of animal issues) or a pest control removal service to relocate the animal.


I hope you find this useful and if you need help please call us. Health and safety are our priority. We want to make sure your pool water is premium quality.

Thank you for being here. Happy swimming!

Jelena



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