What is Recreational Water Illness?
Contaminated Pools and Lakes and More
Becoming ill after swimming in a pool, lake, ocean or bay, is becoming so common, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has given the skyrocketing sickness a name - Recreational Water Illness (RWI). Other water-related sites also contribute to RWIs, such as water parks, water play areas, hot tubs and decorative water fountains.
To protect yourself and your family, the CDC has issued some safety tips to prevent water related adverse health events:
Do Not Let Water Get in the Mouth - Water may have been infected with fecal matter and sewage causing the disease known as cryptosporidiosis - the most common waterborne illness here in the US. Symptoms include vomiting, fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Don't Swim After a Heavy Rain - Wait at least 24 hours before swimming in a natural body of water, such as a river or ocean. Storm-water runoff containing pollution from sewage is highest after a heavy rain.
Avoid Pools With a Strong Chlorine Smell - That strong chemical smell emanating from a pool means the pool has not been disinfected properly; if it was it would have very little odor. The strong smell is created when sweat and urine are mixed with chlorine. The Healthy Water Program at the CDC reports that in this case the water is not being properly monitored for safety. Don't assume that the proper amount of chlorine will immediately kill RWI germs in pools and hot tubs. Killing RWI germs will take time and the amount of time varies with each germ. Germs like Crypto (Cryptosporidium) can survive for several days.
Wash Up After Swimming - After swimming always immediately bathe, and always wash your bathing suit. Infectious germs and parasites remain on the body. If bathing immediately is not possible, at least thoroughly wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs.
It's always best to be proactive and keep germs out of pools in the first place, by using proper care. Always take your young child to the toilet prior to swimming - and change diapers away from the pool area. Always shower with soap and water and wash your hands after using the toilet. Do not swim if you have diarrhea.
Who is Likely to be Most Affected? - Pregnant women, children and people with weakened immune systems such as people living with AIDS, people who have received an organ transplant, and people who are receiving certain types of chemotherapy.
Warning - People with weakened immune systems should be made aware that if Crypto is in the water it can cause a life-threatening infection.
For more information check the CDC website.
For other health related issues to be aware of - please see the links below:
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