By the Gazette-Times
With summer approaching, many people seek recreational activities on local waterways or backyard pools. Benton County Environmental Health officials encourage swimmers to practice healthy behaviors to prevent water illnesses.
Recreational water illnesses are spread by swimming in water contaminated as a result of poorly maintained recreational water venues, the presence of chlorine-resistant germs, or runoff-related contamination of lakes or beaches.
ìTemporary pools that are not properly disinfected and are used by a large number of people are a special concern, especially since the number of Norovirus outbreaks are on the rise in the state,î said Bill Emminger, environmental health deputy administrator.
Recreational pools includes fountains. In 2003, an Oregon outbreak of Shigellosis was traced to a fountain that involved 19 confirmed and 92 presumptive cases. Most people infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacterium.
ìWhile an outbreak could occur here, we are fortunate that the interactive fountain in Corvallis is licensed and inspected by the Benton County Health Department and is equipped with filtration and chlorine as part of its system,î Emminger said.
The publicís awareness of water illnesses and appropriate swimming behaviors plays a pivotal role in transmission. Swimmers who are ill with diarrhea may contaminate swimming venues.
Healthy swimming behaviors include:
ï Donít swim if you have diarrhea. Germs can spread in the water and make other people sick.
ï Donít swallow pool water and avoid getting water in your mouth.
ï Practice good hygiene. Shower before swimming and wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
ï Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often. Waiting to hear ìI have to goî might mean itís too late.
ï Change diapers in a bathroom and not poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the pool.
ï Wash young children thoroughly with soap and water before swimming.
For more information, call Benton County Environmental Health at 766-6841 or see www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming.