CARLSBAD, Calif. – A local swim center has taken steps to keep customers and staff safe after an employee recently tested positive for Mpox. Although health experts have said and told the center that waterborne transmission of the virus is extremely low.
Waterworks Aquatics told FOX 5 that they took immediate action, contacted the San Diego County Health and Human Services Department, and made sure the employee isolates at home.
They also said they notified their customers right away.
“Anything that is related to anyone’s safety is always the utmost importance to us,” said Todd Sarkaria the Senior Vice President of Operations at Waterworks Aquatics.
The employee tested positive earlier in September. The center said the employee is self-isolating and cannot return until a doctor clears them.
The center has notified anyone who may have been in contact with the employee and told FOX 5’s Alani Letang that contact happened in a chlorinated pool, which is balanced and cleaned daily.
The center said they use a UV light system to kill bacteria and other micro-organisms in the water, plus they are continuing with COVID-19 measures.
“Our facilities itself is professionally cleaned nightly, we pressure wash frequently, all surfaces are wiped down frequently, and with that chlorinated environment in the pool and around the pool deck, it ensures a safe environment,” Sarkaria said.
The center provides swim lessons primarily to children, but also offers lap swimming for anyone looking to get in a swimming workout.
“Chlorine in the water will kill the monkeypox virus, at least in water that’s up to the standards that the state requires for a public pool. Also, you can imagine the virus that might be coming off of a person’s skin would be diluted in a large pool, and it would be very difficult for the virus to contact someone else in the pool,” said Dr. Peter Binstock, the Medical Director at Sharp Memorial Hospital’s Infection Prevention Department.
Mpox is spread with direct contact with infected sores, prolonged face-to-face contact, respiratory droplets or contaminated clothing, bedding, or towels.
Binstock said the likelihood of instructor-to-student spread would “really would depend on the instructor having active skin lesions, and having contact with the student that’s more than just brief casual brushing by in the pool.”
Experts have said symptoms appear within 7-14 days, but can also be as long as 21 days or as short as five. A person can be sick for two to four weeks.
The center said mitigating the risks of infection is its mission.
“I’m a parent and I understand their concern. We are being very prompt and diligent to ensure that we are communicating that to our parents, and also having a direct line with them and the health department,” Sarkaria said.
As of Friday, the center said it has been 11 days since the positive test. Sarkaria said there haven’t been reported cases of the virus spreading to any of the customers, students, or staff. Customers are asked to not come to the facility if they are not feeling well.