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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Recreational Water–Associated Disease Outbreaks

Swimming is a great form of physical activity year-round, but germs can spread in the water if we don’t each do our part to promote healthy swimming. Swimmers can help keep germs out of the water by taking a pre-swim shower and not swimming when ill with diarrhea.
Aquatics staff can kill germs in the water by maintaining disinfectant levels and pH according to public health standards that are enforced by pool inspectors. Healthy swimming is important all year—even in the winter. Hot tubs/spas were linked to 18 (22 percent) outbreaks, of which seven (39 percent) occurred in February or March.
Harmful algal blooms commonly occur in freshwater bodies. They can create bad odors, they can discolor the water or accumulate as a scum on the surface of the water.
People should avoid, and animals should be kept from, and neither should drink directly from lakes and ponds that have a scum on the water. People should also observe any local water advisories.
The outbreaks most often affected people less than 20 years old. HABs tend to occur in warm bodies of water that are rich in nutrients and often produce a visible algal scum on the water. Harmful algal blooms {HABs) might generate toxins that can make humans sick and cause death among fish, birds and dogs. Ill people report a range of health effects, including neurologic symptoms (for example, confusion), diarrhea, cough, rash, and earache.
Health-care providers should consider HAB—toxin exposure as a possible cause of illness in people who have been in or alongside freshwater bodies with algal blooms. Future increases in water temperature and nutrient pollution are expected to result in an increase in the number of HABs in freshwater lakes.

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