Good hygiene can prevent the spread of water illnesses

Jun 30, 2015 From staff reports

While splashing in the waters of Wyoming's pools and lakes is a favorite summer pastime for many families, swimmers should be careful to avoid catching or spreading recreational water illnesses.

"It is important to prevent germs from getting into pools and lakes," said Katie Bryan, epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health. "Unfortunately, it doesn't take much contamination to cause a problem."

Many germs that get into the water come from feces.

"Some of these germs are very tolerant to chlorine and might not be killed right away," Bryan said.

For example, cryptosporidium, the leading cause of pool-related outbreaks, can live in chlorinated water for more than 10 days. These germs also are common in untreated water such as hot springs, lakes, rivers and streams.

Disease symptoms can occur days to weeks after exposure and include active diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea and loss of appetite.

Simple steps swimmers can take to help protect themselves include:

- Avoid swimming on days when you are experiencing diarrhea.

- Avoid getting water into your mouth.

- Shower with soap before swimming and wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.

Parents of young children should remember to:

- Wash children before swimming (especially their rear ends).

- Check diapers every 30 to 60 minutes. Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not poolside.

- Take children to the bathroom every 30 to 60 minutes. Waiting to hear "I have to go," may mean it's too late.

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