Saturday, January 26, 2013

Recreational Water Illness (RWI) Prevention

Swimming pool
Swimming pool (Photo credit: ZaCky ॐ)

Take action and stay healthy!

Swimming is great exercise with many health benefits, but the water you swim in can also spread germs that can make you sick and cause illnesses known as recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

The germs that cause RWIs are spread when you swallow, breathe in the mists from, or have contact with contaminated water from pools, water parks, hot tubs, lakes, oceans, and any other type of water used for recreation.

Since the mid-1980s, the number of reported RWI outbreaks has increased substantially, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most common recreational water illness is diarrhea, which is often caused by the germs Cryptosporidium (“Crypto”) and Giardia. Other common RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections.

The best way to prevent illness when swimming is to stop the germs from getting into the water and to make sure that recreational water facilities properly filter and disinfect the water. Although pool inspectors check to make sure these facilities are properly maintained, they can’t be at every pool every day.

A CDC study found that 1 in 8 public pool inspections conducted in 13 states in 2008 resulted in pools being closed immediately due to serious code violations. Overall, child care pools had the highest percentage of inspections resulting in closures (17.2%), followed by hotel/motel pools (15.3%), and apartment/condo pools (12.4%).

To help stay healthy every time you swim, take an active role in stopping the spread of germs by following the Triple A’s of Healthy Swimming: Awareness, Action, and Advocacy.
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