Water-borne diseases are on the rise
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you have to worry about water-borne diseases! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that August is when such diseases rise and cautions that recreational water illnesses (RWIs) can be picked up in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks and play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, and oceans.
The most common disease is diarrheal illnesses, caused by a variety of germs. Ear infections and skin infections are also common ailments picked up in the water. Most germs such as staff bacteria and e-coli can be “shocked” out of pools and treated in other areas. But recently, cryptosporidium – known as crypto – has surfaced as a germ that can stay alive for days even in well-maintained pools because it’s tolerant to chlorine.
So, what should one do about going in the water? Check your beaches and lakes for postings of bacteria levels. If swimming in a public pool, see what is posted for the quality of water and if it isn’t posted, ask for it. The biggest way to protect oneself when in the water is to avoid swallowing water. When finished swimming, wash your hands with soap carefully – including lathering the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. You should scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and then rinse them well under clean, running water. While alcohol-based hand sanitizers are good if t here is no running water and soap available, they unfortunately do not effectively kill crypto.
People with compromised immune systems should be particularly cautious about swimming in public pools or going into public hot tubs. Anyone who gets any of the symptoms after swimming should contact their healthcare provider.
Can crypto effect bottled water? According to the CDC, there are no guarantees that bottled water made from spring water, well water, or mineral water does not have crypto UNLESS the label lists one of the four methods that are effective against crypto. These are: distilled; reverse osmosis treated; filtered through an absolute 1 micron or smaller filter; or one million absolute.
For information on the crypto germ, visit the CDC’s webpages.