Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)

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Who is Most Likely to Get Ill from a Recreational Water Illness (RWI)?

Children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems (for example, people living with AIDS, individuals who have received an organ transplant, or people receiving certain types of chemotherapy) can suffer from more severe illness if infected. People with weakened immune systems should be aware that recreational water might be contaminated with human or animal feces containing Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium). Crypto can cause a life-threatening infection in persons with weakened immune systems.

People with a weakened immune system should consult their health care provider before participating in activities that place them at risk for illness.

How Can We Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)?

Steps for Healthy Swimming

Here are a few easy and effective healthy swimming steps all swimmers can take each time we swim to help protect ourselves, our families, and our friends from recreational water illnesses (RWIs):

Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and dirt out of the water!

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower before you get in the water.
  • Don't pee or poop in the water.
  • Don't swallow the water.

Every hour -- everyone out!

  • Take kids on bathroom breaks.
  • Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area-not poolside-to keep germs away from the pool.
  • Reapply sunscreen.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

  • Pools: Proper free chlorine level (1-3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2-7.8) maximize germ-killing power.
  • Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level (chlorine [2-4 parts per million or ppm] or bromine [4-6 ppm] and pH [7.2-7.8]) maximize germ-killing power.
  • Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips.

SOURCE:

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)." Feb. 5, 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/index.html>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/5/2015

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