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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Date: May 20, 2013


Dover, DE - Summer is the time for fun in the sun and lots of time in the water. But each year, thousands of Americans get sick with recreational water illnesses caused by germs from swimming. Germs get into the water when they wash off swimmers' bodies and pool water treatments don't kill them. Germs also get in natural water sources like lakes and streams from swimmers' bodies, dead animals, and other organic sources.

The week before Memorial Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Division of Public Health celebrate annual Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week, May 20-26. This year the focus is on swimmer hygiene and the need for swimmers to take an active role in helping to protect themselves and prevent the spread of germs.

According to the CDC, recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans. RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water or chemicals that evaporate from the water and cause indoor air quality problems. Diarrhea is the most common RWI, and it is often caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, norovirus, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7. Other common RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs.

Tips for protecting you and your family:

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Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.