Sun, fun and recreational water illness awareness

Memorial Day weekend may be the official start of summer fun. But it is also a time to consider prevention. In other words, waiting to hear, "I have to go" from your little one may mean it's too late.

People who swim in lakes and ponds are particularly susceptible to parasites such as Cryptosporidium, which causes diarrhea. Cryptosporidium can be found in infected people’s stool and are not visible to the naked eye. Chlorine will kill these parasites when a pool is shocked with a large amount of chlorine, but will not be killed when pools are operated at their normal chlorine levels (1.0- 5.0 parts per million). Their tough, outer shells allow them to survive long periods of time in water or on surfaces.

Keep in mind the ways you can decrease your risk of contracting cryptosporidiosis throughout the summer and any time you swim:

  • Don’t swallow contaminated water from pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, fountains, lakes or other bodies of water.
  • Avoid putting objects in your mouth that may have come in contact with the stool of an infected person or animal.

Follow the Six PLEAs for Healthy Swimming:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Don’t swallow the water. In fact, avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often. Waiting to hear, “I have to go,” may mean that it’s too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the water and spread illness. • Wash your child thoroughly (especially his or her rear end) with soap and water before swimming.

The Health Department’s Environmental Health program performs routine inspections of public swimming pools and spas to ensure they are safe for the public. For more information on recreational water illness or pool inspections, call the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department at (785) 843-3060 or visit the agency’s website at


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