MRSA Infections and Swimming Pools
The relation of MRSA infections and swimming pools is a topic of much debate.
MRSA can transmit via the water in a swimming pool. An infected person with an open wound or sore uses the pool and contaminates the water, leading to other swimmers getting the inflection. MRSA also spreads through the use of common towels and by the person touching common areas such as locker room floors and benches, which may be contaminated by an infected person.A study by Berger et. al in 2004 implicates contaminated whirlpool water as a route of transmission of MRSA to members of a college football team.
Chlorine kills MRSA, and as such, the risk of MRSA spreading through a properly disinfected swimming pool remains remote. A 2007 study by Tolba, et al., entitled “Survival of epidemic strains of healthcare (HA-MRSA) and community-associated (CA-MRSA) meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)” published in International Journal of Hygiene Environmental Health (doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2007.06.003) shows that MRSA does not survive in swimming pools with a free chlorine concentration of 2.90 ppm.
Swimming in chlorinated swimming pools or ocean-water for 30 days is actually one recommended way of preventing MRSA infection.
MRSA can still spread through chlorinated swimming pool in communal usage such as sports team setting, when a person comes into physical contact with another MRSA infected person in the pool. The safest precaution therefore is preventing entry of people with sores or wounds to the swimming pool.