Beware of swimming related illnesses

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Summer can entice Pearl River County residents to indulge in activities such as swimming. Pools, lakes and rivers are popular choices for individuals looking to relax and cool off during the summer months.

This is also a time when people are at risk of recreational water illnesses.

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The Centers for Disease Control website states that recreational water illnesses can include diarrhea, rashes and infections. Exposed wounds also pose a danger to the person with the wound, and those in the water with that person.

Jeff R. Buntin, a nurse practitioner at Highland Community Hospital, said there are several pathogens present in chlorinated water that can cause diseases.

Buntin said one of the most common parasites present in chlorinated water is cryptosporidium known to be a common cause of recreational water illness. These parasites are spread by swallowing or breathing in contaminated water.

He said hot tubs are also capable of spreading germs. If a hot tub is not disinfected properly, the mist could potentially be inhaled and cause Legionnaires, a disease that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, he said. 

Buntin said that between 2000-2014, one in three recreational water borne diseases were due to the use of pools and hot tubs in hotel rooms.

To avoid contracting these illnesses, avoid swallowing pool water, Buntin said. Children should not be allowed to swim if they have diarrhea, which is known to spread a high concentration of germs. Parents should be watchful of children and take them to the restroom every hour while they are swimming. 

It’s also a good idea to take a shower after swimming in a chlorinated pool, Buntin said.

If after swimming, symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or severe abdominal cramping occurs between 12-72 hours, seek immediate medical attention, he said.