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Nashville, TN – While swimming is a fun way to beat the heat and be physically active, thousands of Americans get sick every year due to germs found in the places where we swim.
“We can all help keep our swimming areas safe this summer by following a few easy steps,” said TDH Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, MD, PhD. “Taking precautions like showering before swimming and never letting children swim without supervision helps prevent illness and injuries.”This year’s theme for RWII Prevention Week is “We’re in it Together,” focusing on the role of swimmers, recreation area staff members, residential pool owners and public health officials in preventing recreational water illnesses, drowning and pool chemical injuries.
Preventing Recreational Water Illness
Recreational Water Illnesses, or RWIs, are caused by germs in the water that are spread to people by swallowing, breathing in vapors of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds or oceans. RWIs cause several types of health problems including gastrointestinal illness; eye infections and irritation; hepatitis; wound infections; skin infections; respiratory illness; ear infections and even neurologic infections.
The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea. Germs on and in swimmers’ bodies end up in the water and can make other people sick. Even healthy swimmers can get sick from RWIs, but young children, elderly people, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk.
Illnesses and outbreaks associated with recreational water vary from year to year. In Tennessee in 2010, 14 people including four who were hospitalized were sickened in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with a community swimming pool.
Illness caused by cryptosporidium and other waterborne pathogens has been on the rise in Tennessee and nationwide. Any illness or outbreak that may be caused by exposure to recreational water should be reported to your local health department.
“Taking steps to keep germs out of the pool is the best way to prevent RWIs,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD. “Chlorine and other pool water treatments help but don’t kill germs instantly. A good way to protect ourselves is by not swallowing water from pools, lakes, rivers and other swimming places.”
Follow these tips to help prevent RWIs:
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of drowning.
Prepare by making sure:
When in the water, keep swimmers safe by:
When not in the water, prevent access to the water by:
For more information about healthy and safe swimming, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Swimming website www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/
About the Tennessee Department of Health
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments.
Learn more about TDH services and programs at http://health.state.tn.us/
Topicsalcohol, CDC, Chlorine, CPR, David Reagan, Diarrhea, Drowning, Drugs, E. Coli, Germs, Hot Tubs, Illness, John Dunn, Lakes, Life Jackets, Nashville, Nashville TN, Oceans, Pathogens, Ponds, Recreational Water Illinesses, Rivers, RWIs, Swimming, swimming pools, Swimming Safety, TDH, TDOH, Tennessee, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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