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Stay Safe In The Surf

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

With summer vacations just around the corner, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health would like to remind county residents to be health-conscious while swimming and avoid recreational water illnesses.

"We want to encourage people to enjoy the great beaches, lakes, water parks, and swimming pools that Los Angeles County has to offer in the healthiest way possible,' said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "That means taking precautions to ensure that you, your friends or family don't get sick from germs that are normally found in lakes and the ocean. Try not swallow water while swimming or playing; do shower before entering a pool or spa; and practice good hygiene when visiting public swimming pools."

Contact with germs in recreational waters can cause recreational water illnesses (RWI). Diarrheal illnesses are most commonly reported and may be due to parasites and bacteria such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, or E. coli O157. Symptoms can include diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and nausea.

It is especially important that swimmers and other recreational water users observe the following precautions when enjoying beaches, water parks, pools, or other venues:

* Swimmers, including children, who have diarrhea should never enter public water areas.

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* Toddlers should use swim diapers and the diaper should be checked often. If it needs to be changed, this should be done in the restroom and not near the water.

* Swimmers should wash their hands after using the toilet, or after changing a child's diaper.

* Swimmers, including children, should practice good hygiene by showering before entering the water.

* Children should be taught to not swallow water either in swimming pools, in the ocean or in a lake.

Anyone with a pool or spa should routinely disinfect them using chlorine or an equivalent product. They should also use a filter to screen out solids.

Children ages one to nine years of age are particularly vulnerable to infection as they tend to swallow water indiscriminately. Pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk.