As of this writing, the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) says there is no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted to people through recreational bodies of water. However, you can still get it from other people while in the pool or at the beach or lake. Social distancing and mask-wearing is still the best bet to avoid catching or spreading the disease.
What you can catch from swimming or playing in water is any number of other illnesses. Don’t let someone who is sick, get in your pool, pond, or lake – particularly if they are suffering from diarrhea. The CDC says just one diarrheal incident in the water can release millions of diarrhea-causing germs like Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli. These germs can make other swimmers sick if they swallow even one mouthful of contaminated water.
Although in swimming pools, most germs are killed within minutes by chlorine or bromine at the recommended levels, Cryptosporidium is a germ that can survive in properly treated water for more than 7 days. Cryptosporidium (aka Crypto) is a parasite. When it invades the human body, it can cause watery diarrhea, stomach pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss for as long as two weeks. People with weakened immune systems can die from this parasite.
How to avoid Crypto? Don’t swallow water from pools, lakes or streams. Insist that mothers not change their children’s diapers by the water, and of course that they not let their children in the water with a soiled diaper or clothing. Don’t eat food that has been rinsed in recreational water or water that might be contaminated. If the safety of available drinking water is in doubt, use only commercially bottled water, or water that has been boiled for 3 minutes, or use a “Crypto filter” labeled NSF 53’ or 58’.
In addition to illness, it’s good to remember the biggest concern around recreational water is drowning. According to the CDC, drownings are a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 14, and three children die every day as a result of drowning. In fact, drowning kills more children 1-4 than anything else except birth defects.
Covid-19 aside, precautions still need to be taken when enjoying the water this summer.
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