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Ask Andrea: Does Hepatitis C transmit in the pool?

Byline: Andrea Salzman, MS, PT


Question: We have a patient that may benefit from aquatic therapy - however, the patient is positive for Hepatitis C - would this be a concern for aquatic therapy?


Answer: Hepatitis C (and B)  is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact, like occurs with transfusions, needle sticks, and IV drug use. The CDC is not aware of any instances in which a person has become infected with these germs after being exposed to a blood spill in a pool (see their statement below). Hep B and C are not fecal borne, like Hepatitis A.





Even if an infected patient had a cut or other method of blood spill, properly treated pool water will kill the pathogens almost immediately. The way that I read it, the CDC feels that blood spills are not even a reason for the pool to shut down, the likelihood of any blood borne pathogen to transmit is so infinitesimal. That said, you should always follow your facility infection control policies and any existing guidelines from your local or state regulatory agencies if they conflict with this information!

Here is an excerpt from the CDC's policy:


Responding to blood in the pool

Chlorine kills germs found in blood (such as hepatitis B and HIV). CDC is not aware of any instances in which a person has become infected with bloodborne germs after being exposed to a blood spill in a pool. While there is no public health reason to recommend closing the pool after a blood spill, some aquatic staff choose to do so temporarily.



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Here is another reference for you - https://www.hepatitiscentral.com/news/is_hepatitis_tr/


Hepatitis Risk

Although approximately 10 percent of people infected with a hepatitis virus are unsure of how they contracted it, scientists do know which bodily fluids can transmit the different strains of hepatitis illnesses. While there are three prevalent hepatitis viruses, only one has the potential to contaminate a maintained pool.

  • Hepatitis A – Since this virus is primarily transmitted via fecal matter, this is the hepatitis strain that could become a problem in a swimming pool.

  • Hepatitis B – Transmitting this strain of hepatitis is not a concern for swimmers because it involves blood-to-blood contact.

  • Hepatitis C – Transmitting this strain of hepatitis is not a concern for swimmers because it…

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