Press Release

August 4, 2010


What’s In the Water?

Beating the heat in the pool? Watch out for swimming sickness.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – With the recent high temperatures, many people are turning to swimming pools and water parks to cool off. But there are some things you should keep in mind before you dive in, like recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

Recreational water illnesses can be caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, E. coli 0157:H7, and Shigella, and are spread by accidentally swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter. You share the water with everyone in the pool. If someone with diarrhea contaminates the water, swallowing the water can make you sick. Most germs are killed by chlorine, but some germs, like Crypto, are resistant to chlorine and can live in pools for days. That is why even the best maintained pools can spread illnesses.

The best way to prevent RWIs is to keep germs out of the pool in the first place. Follow these healthy swimming steps:

For all swimmers

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea or for two weeks after having diarrhea.
  • Don’t swallow pool water.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.

For Parents of Young Children

  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. All children who are not toilet-trained should wear tightly fitting rubber or plastic pants.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside.
  • Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.

If you’ve recently been swimming and start to experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and low-grade fever, check with your doctor and contact your health department as soon as possible.

For more information, log onto

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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