Recreational Water Illnesses
Recreational waters like tubs, beaches, pools and spas have been a destination for millions of people who like to spend their leisure time in water. On an estimate, around five million hot tubs and 7.4 million swimming pools are being used in either residential or public places in the US (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). It has been observed that most these waters are contaminated with harmful bacteria which can cause a number of diseases which are termed as ‘Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI’s)’.
The diseases which can be caused by contaminated waters include a wide range of infections such as intestinal, respiratory, skin (Desrmatitis), ear, eye or neurologic infections. “The most common RWI is diarrhea which can be caused by parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, bacteria such as Shigella and E. coli O157:H, and viruses such as norovirus” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). People who lack a strong immune system are more prone to be attacked by such microbes. People can get infected by such diseases if they swallow, breath or have contact with such contaminated water. Especially the parasites causing diarrhea can be life threatening if a person has a weak immune system.
In case of creating awareness regarding a place with contaminated waters, timeliness is the most important factor. An announcement regarding prohibition for visiting a place can be effective only when it is made within right time, so that people, specifically surfers can be saved from such diseases. This task can be highly challenging and requires a real time check over the contamination level of water. Water samples need to be tested quite frequently and specially after storms and results from the tests should be communicated to the people concerned on a timely basis. These results can be communicated by electronic means, such as emails or websites, or these can be communicated through letters or newspapers. Sign boards regarding water contamination level should also be placed at beaches. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008)
Communicating to people on a timely basis can be another challenge. Therefore awareness should be created among people regarding safety checks which they must ensure before going to beach or any other place having recreational water. Awareness campaigns should be initiated and it should be made sure that people pay sufficient attention to the safety checks. Some of the ways of communication may be newsletters, websites, seminars and workshops. Websites established by public health departments should be updated frequently with realistic data. These websites also need to have instructions regarding safety from RWI’s. (Illinois Department of Public Health, 2010)
Types of warning information that should be made available to general public and specifically surfers should include the description regarding diseases which can be caused by contaminated waters and different ways of prevention from such diseases. To protect children from RWI’s, parents should be instructed to carry out safety procedures before going to swimming pools. These procedures include: children having diarrhea should not be taken to pools, avoid water from getting in children’s mouth, parents should wash their hands after changing their children’s diapers.
Due to recent storm, subsequent water testing was carried out and as a result it has been found out that the beach water is contaminated with fecal bacteria. The storm breached the regular cleaning system, bringing the contaminated water to the coastline. These bacteria can cause RWI’s which can be really harmful for people with weak immune system. Therefore general public and surfers are instructed to prevent their contact with the beach water and comply with the department’s decision of closing down the beach. (Illinois Department of Public Health, 2010)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Recreational Water-Associated Illnesses. Accessed from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/recreational_water.htm [Retrieved on August 20, 2010]
Illinois Department of Public Health (2010). Swimming pools and spas. Accessed from http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/swimmingpools.htm [Retrieved on August 20, 2010]