What Diseases Can You Catch While Swimming?
When summer comes around, millions around the world go swimming in oceans and lakes. Is it safe? Read More: 9 Surprising Diseases You Can Catch In The …
You know what’s fun about summertime? Going
swimming. You know what’s not so fun? Catching
diseases from the germ infested water.
Hey guys, Chastity here for DNews.
Summer is coming. As the temperatures warm
up, many of you will be hitting the beaches
or hanging out at the pool. But something
dangerous lurks in those waters. I’m not
talking about sharks. Chances are, you’re
swimming in germs.
In the U.S., oceans are contaminated with
oil, sewage, and storm runoff containing parasites,
bacteria, and viruses. These can cause a number
of diseases. According to the EPA, up to 3.5
million people become ill from contact with
raw sewage from sanitary sewer overflows each
Polluted beach water-related illnesses include
stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory
infections, meningitis, and hepatitis.
Legionnaire’s disease can be contracted
by inhaling contaminated mist or vapor. This
form of pneumonia is a common waterborne infection
that causes high fever, coughing, and muscle
Health officials recommend waiting at least
72 hours after a storm before going into the
ocean. Within those 72 hours, coastal waters
are polluted with runoff that may contain
sewage from sewer pipes and manholes.
According to a study conducted by the Santa
Monica Bay Restoration Project, there is an
increased risk for swimmers within 400 yards
of a flowing storm drain. So watch where you
Surfers and divers are at greater risk of
getting sick from infested water than swimmers.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria
found on the human body, but a cut or a wound
in the skin can open it up to a staph infection.
Surfers are especially prone to staph infections
and are at risk of the more resistant strain,
MRSA, especially if they have wounds that
are not properly treated.
The results can be life-threatening. Orange
County surfer Timmy Turner nearly died after
a staph infection attacked his brain. Water
went up his nose during a stormy day, which
started off with sinusitis and an ear infection
and lead to something much worse. Last Christmas,
former surf champion Gary Ault died from a
staph infection, after surfing in San Diego
two days after a rainstorm.
Swimming in lake water comes with risks, too.
Last summer, 70 people who swam at an Oregon
lake caught norovirus, a virus that causes
inflammation of the stomach and large intestine
lining. More than half were children between
the ages of 4 and 10. Officials believe a
swimmer with norovirus infected the water
with vomit or diarrhea, which the other swimmers
then swallowed. Gross.
While that may have been an extreme isolated
incident, lakes and streams are still in danger
of pollution from sewage, livestock waste,
and improperly functioning septic systems.
Also, when entering the water, you should
look out for blue-green algae, also known
as cyanobacteria. Swimmers and water skiers
may experience stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea,
or an allergic reaction after contacting water
with this toxic blue-green algae.
So I’ve scared you off from open water,
but surely swimming pools and hot tubs must
be safe, right? They’re chlorinated!
Sorry guys, but the chlorine used to disinfect
pools does not kill all germs instantly. According
to the CDC, there are germs tolerant to chlorine
that can take anywhere from minutes to days
for chlorine to kill them. If you swallow
or breathe in even a little water with these
germs, you can catch a Recreational Water
Illness, or RWI.
RWI’s include gastrointestinal, skin, ear,
respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections.
But the most common RWI is diarrhea. Cryptosporidium,
a diarrhea causing parasite, can survive for
days in well-maintained pools. Reported crypto
cases went from just over 3,000 in 2004 to
10,500 in 2008. That’s an increase of over