Do your summer fun plans include time in the water? Austin Public Health has tips to avoid recreational water illnesses (RWIs) this summer season.

The germs that cause RWIs, such as cryptosporidiosis (also known as “crypto”), are spread through contaminated water from pools, water parks, hot tubs, lakes, oceans and other types of water used for recreation. You can become sick when you swallow, breathe in mist or have contact with these waters.

The good news is that germs causing RWIs are killed by chlorine. But chlorine doesn’t work right away, and some organisms can live in the pool for days.

Even the best maintained pools can spread illness. Pool water is shared by every swimmer, so stay healthy every time you swim and follow these do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Don’t swallow pool water and avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Do practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Do take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear “I have to go” may mean it’s too late.
  • Do change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not poolside. Germs can spread in and around the pool.
  • Do wash kids thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming. Even very small amounts of fecal matter can spread germs in the water.

Visit the CDC’s Healthy Swimming page to learn more.

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