Minimize Illness Risk to Maximize Water Fun

May 24, 2022

Minimize Illness Risk to Maximize Water Fun

The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) wants residents to maximize the health benefits of swimming, hiking and other outdoor activities in Wyoming while also minimizing the risk of illnesses associated with water fun.

“Each of us can play a role in preventing illnesses when we swim, play and relax in and near water whether outdoors in warm weather or indoors year-round,” said Courtney Tillman, epidemiologist with WDH.

“Swallowing a small amount of indoor or outdoor recreational water can make people sick,” Tillman said. “You can’t tell by looking whether water contains germs. Even in water treated with chlorine, some germs can survive for more than seven days.”

Diseases such as cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis and shigellosis are generally caused when germs get into the pools and outdoor water sources from animal and human feces. Symptoms can occur days to weeks after exposure and include diarrhea, stomach cramping, gas, bloating, nausea and appetite loss.

Tillman said simple things we can do to help protect ourselves and others include:

  • DO stay out of the water if sick with diarrhea.
  • DO shower before getting in the water. When chlorine mixes with dirt, sweat, pee and poop, there is less chlorine available to kill germs.
  • DO take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers every hour. Change diapers away from the water to keep germs from getting in.
  • DO dry ears thoroughly with a towel when you get out of the water.
  • DO boil or use a filter or solution designed to remove germs from streams, rivers and lakes before drinking.

Actions to avoid include:

  • DON’T swallow the water and avoid getting water mouth.
  • DON’T poop or pee in the water.
  • DON’T sit or stand on jets at splash pads. Sitting or standing on jets can rinse poop off butts.

For more information about healthy swimming, visit