With many families looking forward to splashing in the waters of Wyoming’s pools this summer, two state agencies are reminding swimmers to avoid catching or spreading recreational water illnesses.
Diseases such as cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are commonly passed on from person to person due to swimming in pools contaminated with the waterborne parasites. Symptoms of these diseases in humans can occur days to weeks after exposure and include active diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea and loss of appetite.
“Basically, these illnesses are caused by germs found in the places where we swim so we want to prevent the spread of those germs,” said Kelly Weidenbach, an epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health. “Most recreation water illnesses are caused by contamination with fecal matter. That’s why we strongly encourage people to shower before entering pools or hot tubs.”
Normal pool disinfection measures may not fully kill the parasites, which are also found in untreated water sources such as lakes, rivers and ponds.
The Wyoming Department of Agriculture inspects public pools in Wyoming. Together, the agencies monitor recreational water illness (RWI) linked with public pools, hot tubs and hot springs across the state.
“We also work with pool operators to encourage healthy standards and practices that are important to maintain healthy swimming environments,” said Dean Finkenbinder, consumer health services manager with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
Simple steps swimmers can take to help protect themselves and others from RWIs include:
· Don't swim on days when experiencing diarrhea. Germs can spread in the water and make others sick.
· Don't swallow pool water. Avoid getting water in the mouth.
· Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on the body end up in the water.
Parents of young children should remember to:
o Wash children before swimming (especially rear ends).
o Check diapers every 30–60 minutes. Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside. Germs can spread in and around the pool.
o Take children to the bathroom every 30–60 minutes. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean it's too late.
For more information about healthy swimming, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming/.