Health
5:27 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Don't Swallow the Water!

Friday, June 13 is the last day of school for many Triad students as they begin summer break. It’s also the start of the swim season at all city pools in Winston-Salem. But health experts warn that swallowing too much water could put an unexpected damper on your summer fun.

Health experts say avoid jumping feet first into a warm, stagnant pond, especially during a very dry summer.
Credit by: Susanne Nilsson - Infomastern via flickr

Dr. Christopher Ohl is a professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He’s also the medical director of communicable diseases for the Forsyth County Health Department. WFDD’s Keri Brown recently spoke with him about the risk of swallowing water while swimming, regardless of the venue.

Dr. Ohl explains how bacteria and parasites can lurk in swimming pools, lakes, streams and oceans and what safety measures people can follow to prevent illness.

Health experts at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say bacteria and parasites can lurk in all kinds of water and put a real damper on summertime fun unless people follow a few simple measures.

-If children have had any type of gastrointestinal illness, parents should keep them away from pools or water parks for several days to prevent contamination of the water.

-Scream like crazy at water parks, but don’t swallow the water.

-Freshwater lakes and streams can harbor leptospirosis, a bacterium excreted in the urine of mammals that drink from the water. Infection can cause fever with headache or muscle aches, but usually can be treated. To prevent this, don’t swallow the water.

-Never drink untreated water from springs or streams, even if it looks fresh and pure.

-To avoid contracting Naegleria, a rare but deadly brain-eating amoeba that is almost impossible to treat, don’t jump feet first into a warm, stagnant pond, especially during a very dry summer.

-Salt water presents fewer problems regarding infections from bacteria and parasites, but swimmers should stay out of the water if they have a cut or wound that could become infected. Also, Dr. Ohl said it is a good idea to stay away from jellyfish floating on top of the water in the ocean.