INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is reminding Hoosiers this summer to protect themselves from illness and injury in pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 10 people die in the U.S. each day from unintentional drowning. In Indiana, 114 people died of drowning last year.
The CDC advises that anyone going into the water have basic swimming skills and that children be supervised in and near water. Children should wear life jackets around natural bodies of water, even if they know how to swim.
Drowning isn’t the only danger swimming can pose. Each year, Indiana sees an average of 190 cases of Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause a respiratory and gastrointestinal illness that primarily involves watery diarrhea with or without a persistent cough. Cryptosporidium can survive for days even in properly chlorinated pools.
“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.”
To reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting a recreational water illness, swimmers should:
• 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.
Hoosiers who spend time in natural bodies of water should avoid swimming if a blue-green algal bloom is present and after a rain event because rain can wash contaminants like sewage overflows and animal feces into the water. Trash, animal waste and boat waste should be disposed of in designated areas.
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.