Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tips to stay healthy in the water

Oxford County Public Health and Emergency Services is asking local residents as part of its yearly prevention campaign on recreational water illness to stay healthy in the water by not swimming when they are ill with diarrhea.

According to public health, it takes only trace amounts of fecal matter to make others sick and some of the germs can survive for days, even in swimming pools with good filtration and disinfection systems.
One of the most common parasites Cryptosporidium can survive up to eleven days in a chlorinated swimming pool.

According to public health swallowing water contaminated with feces is still a leading cause of recreational water illness because germs from stool can easily contaminate the water in a large pool or water park.
“Children love visiting the beach, pools and water parks in the summer, but children are also one of the groups most vulnerable to recreational water illness because their immune systems are maturing and they are more likely to swallow water,” said Peter Heywood, Oxford public health program supervisor.

Public health’s campaign features “Swimming and diarrhea don’t mix” and “Wash your baby” posters at public pools to remind people to stay out of the pool if they have diarrhea and to wash babies thoroughly before swimming.

“Even if you think you’re well enough to swim, to help protect everyone’s health, we’re asking people to wait until they know their diarrhea has completely subsided before stepping foot in a public swimming area,” Heywood said.

Swimmers can also protect themselves by using the showers at public pools to rinse off before swimming, washing their hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, taking children on bathroom breaks and changing swimming diapers often and avoid swallowing pool or beach water.

Recreational water illnesses can cause skin, ear, respiratory, eye and wound infections, and are responsible for more serious health complications in children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Public health’s said their role in helping to prevent recreational water illness includes inspecting pools and splash pads in the community to ensure health procedures are followed.

Public Health also samples beach water weekly from mid-May to Labour Day to check bacteria levels. Area beaches with high levels of bacteria are posted on site as not safe for swimming. Beach water updates are available online at or by phone by dialing 2-1-1.


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