Swimming Season – How to Avoid Water Illnesses

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthAs pools and beaches begin to open, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, state public health director, is reminding people how to avoid getting sick while swimming.

Every year, thousands of Americans get sick with recreational water illnesses (RWIs), which are caused by germs found in places where we swim. Illnesses can be caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, E. coli 0157:H7, and Shigella, and are spread by accidentally swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study last week showing 58 percent of water samples collected from pool filters at public pools tested positive for E. coli, bacteria normally found in the human feces. The best way to prevent RWIs is to keep germs out of the water in the first place. Follow these six steps to help protect yourself and others from illness.

  • Don’t swim within 14 days of having diarrhea.
  • Don’t swallow pool water.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. All children who are not toilet-trained must wear swim diapers.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not poolside.
  • Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.

To help prevent illnesses associated with swimming at Illinois beaches, each licensed beach is inspected annually to determine that required safety features are in place and there are no sources of possible pollution, such as sewage discharges. To check about beach closures, advisories and test results, go to http://app.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/ilbeaches/public/. For more information about recreational water illness prevention visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/swimmingpools.htm.

Comments are closed.