public health director warns of swimming and water illness
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[May 22, 2007]
National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week, as swimming
pools, water parks and beaches prepare for the season opening during
the Memorial Day weekend, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, Illinois Department
of Public Health director, is encouraging healthy swimming behaviors
to prevent water illnesses.
"Summer is just around the corner, and many of us are looking
forward to jumping in the pool, hitting a water park or going to the
beach. But you can get sick from the water if you are not careful,"
Whitaker said. "Now is the perfect time to learn what precautions to
take to make sure you don't contaminate the water, and learn how to
possibly identify problems with the water."
recreational water illnesses continue to occur in the United States
each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 62 percent of these outbreaks are related to the
chlorine-resistant pathogen Cryptosporidium, commonly called Crypto,
which is introduced into the pool by swimmers who are ill with
diarrhea and spread to other swimmers when they swallow the
contaminated water. These outbreaks underscore the continuing need
to educate people about recreational water illness prevention to
ensure a healthy swimming experience.
Awareness of recreational water illnesses and following healthy
swimming behaviors play an important role in stopping transmission
of these illnesses. Germs on and in swimmers' bodies end up in the
water and can make other people sick. Even healthy swimmers can get
sick from recreational water illnesses, but the young, elderly,
pregnant women and people with suppressed immune systems are
especially at risk.
Specific actions you can take to promote healthy swimming
Do not swim when you
have diarrhea or have had it in the past two weeks.
Do not swallow pool
water or get pool water in your mouth.
swimming (children too!).
Wash your hands after
using the toilet or changing diapers.
Take children on
bathroom breaks or change diapers often.
diapers in a bathroom, not at poolside.
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There are also things you can look at to prevent recreational
water illness. You should notice:
Clean and clear pool
water; you should be able to clearly see any painted stripes and
the bottom of the pool.
Smooth pool sides;
tiles should not be sticky or slippery.
No odor; a
well-chlorinated pool has little odor. A strong chemical smell
indicates a maintenance problem.
working; pool pumps and filtration systems make noise, and you
should hear them running.
In order to minimize these risks, the Illinois Department of
Public Health requires the state's 3,500 licensed swimming
facilities to meet water quality and safety standards, including
engineering design standards that apply to pools, spas, beaches,
water supplies, bather preparation areas and water treatment
systems. The department enforces these rules and regulations through
plan approvals and inspections.
For more information about recreational water illness prevention,
Department of Public Health news release received from the
Illinois Office of Communication and Information]