May 20 through May 26 is Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week in Illinois and the state's department of public health is giving tips on how to stay safe.
Pools are beginning to open for Memorial Day weekend and the Illinois Department of Public Health is reminding swimmers to focus on hygiene and take an active role in protecting themselves and preventing the spread of germs.
"While swimming is a great source of exercise, if you are not careful, you may end up sick," IDPH Director Dr. Lamar Hasbrouck said. "You can get sick from germs floating in lakes, rivers and even swimming pools. Take the time during Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week to learn how to avoid illness and help prevent others from becoming ill, before you jump in the water."
The most common recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs like Crypto (Cryptosporidium), Giardia, E. coli 1057:H7, and Shigella. They are spread when someone accidentally swallows water that had been contaminated with fecal matter. Although most germs are killed by chlorine, some are resistant and can live in pools for days, no matter how well the pool is kept.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58 percent of water samples taken from filters at public pools tested positive for E. coli, which is normally found in human feces.
The IDPH recommends the following steps to protect yourself and prevent the spread of germs:
Pools are not the only source of RWIs, lakes and rivers can also pose a threat. The most common sources of disease-causing organisms in those cases are sewage overflows, polluted storm water runoff, sewage treatment plant malfunctions, boating wastes, and malfunctioning septic systems. Beach water is often the most polluted both during and immediately after rainstorms.
To stay safe in a lake, river, or at a beach, follow these tips:
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