Preventing recreational water illnesses

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Summer means spending lots of time in water for many families. Before you jump in, you should know germs and chemicals floating around in the pool, lake and other bodies of water can make you sick. The good news is that most recreational water illnesses can be prevented.

Dr. Shannon Cohen, physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, says kids are more susceptible to recreational water illnesses because they often swallow the germs in the water or breathe in the mists or aerosols from chemicals. Types can include gastrointestinal problems like upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea; and infection of skin, ear, respiratory tract, eyes and mouths. Germs like cryptosporidium, norovirus and E. coli are often responsible.

Recreational water illnesses can be founds in pools, water parks and water play areas where swimmers share the water and germs with everyone else who enters. Pool chemicals kill most germs within minutes, but some live for days. They can also be found in hot tubs where high water temperatures can make it hard to maintain disinfectant levels, as well as decorative water fountains that aren’t chlorinated or filtered. Oceans, lakes or rivers can also contain recreational water illnesses.

Cohen had several prevention tips:

  • Stay out of water if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower before you get in the water.
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water.
  • Don’t swallow the water.
  • Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks. (no diapers in the pool)
  • Maintain proper chlorine and PH levels in pools.

More online: Recreational Water Illnesses (CDC)

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