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How to stay healthy and safe at the pool

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — Health officials are urging swimmers to use caution now that warmer weather is on its way.

The Indiana State Department of Health says 114 people in Indiana died of drowning in 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the entire U.S. saw an average of 10 people drown each day from unintentional drowning.

However, that is not the only risk. The ISDH said Indiana sees an average of 190 cases of a parasite called cryptosporidium. The parasite can survive even in chlorinated pools for days and can cause a respiratory and gastrointestinal illness that primarily involves watery diarrhea with or without a persistent cough.

“We all share the water we swim in,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “Swimmers should take simple steps to protect themselves, their friends and their family from illness and injury when heading to the water this summer.”

The department offered some tips to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting a recreational water illness.

  • Avoid swallowing the water.
  • Shower before and after getting in the water and thoroughly dry ears after swimming.
  • Avoid urinating or defecating in the water.
  • Stay out of the water if experiencing diarrhea and for two weeks after symptoms stop.
  • Check diapers and change them in a bathroom or diaper changing area, not poolside, and wash your hands and the child’s after the diaper change.

People should avoid swimming in natural bodies of water if they see a blue-green algal bloom and after rainstorms, which can wash contaminants into the water. The department said natural bodies of water also can contain organisms that can lead to illness, including Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba commonly found in soil and warm freshwater that in rare cases can cause a deadly brain infection.

To reduce the risk of exposure, swimmers should avoid warm freshwater when the water temperature is high and the water level is low, avoid putting their head under water and hold their nose shut or use nose clips.

Swimmers also should take precautions to prevent sunburn and heat-related illnesses by applying sunscreen often and drinking plenty of fluids. Swimmers experiencing stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Jacob Burbrink

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