Recreational water illnesses

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Pools, lakes and rivers are packed with people having fun in the sun. But, there are some germs and chemicals found in the water which can make you sick. We’re talking about recreational water illnesses.

Dr. Katy Stordahl with the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to talk recreational water illnesses (RWIs) for this week’s Caring For Our Kids.

How do these illnesses spread?

Kids are more susceptible because they often swallow the germs in the water or breathe in the mists or aerosols from chemicals.

What are the different types of water-borne illnesses to watch out for?

  • upset stomach causing pain,
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea (most often)
  • infections of the skin, ear, respiratory tract & eyes
  • wounds; because germs like cryptosporidium (crypto), norovirus and E. coli cause RWIs.

Where are these germs found?

Pools, Water Parks, Water Play Areas Swimmers share the water and germs in it with ever person who enters. Pool chemicals kill most germs within minutes, but some live for days.

Hot Tubs skin infections like “hot tub rash” are common. The high water temperature in most hot tubs make it hard to maintain the disinfectant levels needed to kill germs.

Decorative Water Fountains not all are chlorinated or filtered. Allowing diaper-aged children to play in this water, which is recycled, can quickly spread germs.

Oceans, Lakes, and Rivers can be contaminated with germs from animal and human waste, water runoff following rainfall, sewage spills.

How can we prevent these illnesses?

  • Stay out of 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.
  • Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks. no diapers in the pool
  • Maintain proper chlorine and PH levels in pools

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