If you are trying to keep your children healthy, keep them away from children's ball pools, whether in restaurants or in physiotherapy… t
Ball pools used in children's physical therapy – similar to those made popular by family restaurants – can contribute to the transfer of germs between children.
This is according to new research published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC).
The problem with kids ball pools
Children's ball pools have been inspired by family restaurants since the 1980s, often contaminated with visible dirt, vomit, sewage, or urine, providing a permissive environment for contamination.
Similar ball pools are commonly used in pediatric physical therapy, however, according to the study, clinics can go days or even weeks between cleaning them. This allows time for microorganisms to accumulate and grow to levels that can give children infections and make them ill.
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Looking more closely at germs in ball pools
Researchers from the University of North Georgia examined six ball pools in inpatient physical therapy clinics or outpatient clinics in the state of Georgia. Nine to 15 balls were selected at random from the different depths of each ball pit sampled.
The study found that there were significant microbial colonization in tested ball pools, including eight bacteria and one yeast that could cause disease. Bacterial colonization was found to be as high as thousands of the ball cells, clearly demonstrating increased potential for the transfer of these organisms to patients and a greater possibility of infection.
“We saw significant variation in the number of micro-organisms between the different samples of ball pools,” said study lead Mary Ellen Oesterle, EdD, PT, Department of Physical Therapy, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA, USA. “This suggests that clinics use different protocols for cleaning and maintenance, which may represent a wider need to clarify and establish standards that reduce the risk of transmission.” T
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Over 30 bacterial species were found
Overall, researchers identified 31 bacterial species and one species of yeast. The bacteria associated with humans found in the ball pools included:
- Enterococcus faecalis – can cause endocarditis, septicemia, urinary tract infection, t a meningitis
- Staphylococcus hominis – cause of blood stream infections and reported as a case of sepsis in a neonatal intensive care unit
- Streptococcus geneis – it is known that it causes endocarditis, adult respiratory distress syndrome, and streptococcal shock
- Acinetobacter lwofii – reported to be causing septicemia, pneumonia, meningitis a The urinary tract and the skin
“This research shows that ball pools can pose an infection risk,” said 2019 APIC, President Hoffi, AP, MS, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC. “Facilities should establish a program for routine cleaning to protect patients and healthcare workers from the risks of possible infections.” T
Source: Elsevier through www.sciencedaily.com
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