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Splish splash, not so fast

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

Summer is almost here! For a lot of Austinites, that means a return to swimming, but government officials want that return to be healthy. In that spirit, they are offering up tips for healthy swimming that is free of “recreational water illnesses” (known in the killjoy set as RWIs). According to a press release from Austin Public Health, “The germs that cause RWIs, such as cryptosporidiosis (also known as ‘crypto’), 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. The good news is that germs causing RWIs are killed by chlorine; however, chlorine doesn’t work right away and some organisms can live in the pool for days. … Even the best maintained pools can spread illness. Pool water is shared by every swimmer so to help stay healthy every time you swim, take an active role in stopping the spread of germs by following six steps for healthy swimming:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Don’t swallow the pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear ‘I have to go’ may mean that it’s too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside. Germs can spread in and around the pool.
  • Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming. Invisible amounts of fecal matter can end up in the pool.”

More information about disease-free swimming can be found on the CDC’s website.

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