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Germs In The Water

As the weather warms up, more people will be going for a swim.

But before taking the plunge, the Centers for Disease Control wants swimmers to take a few precautions to protect themselves from germs doctors call "recreational water illnesses."

On The Saturday Early Show, Dr. Mallika Marshall had some advice on avoiding this growing problem.

Recreational water illnesses are infections that are caused by swallowing, breathing in or coming into contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers or oceans. The germs found in these contaminated waters can cause ear infections, lung infections, eye problems or even skin or wound infections, though the most common symptom is diarrhea.

Marshall says if someone is sick with, for example, diarrhea, and they swim in a recreational pool or water park, they can pass the germs on to others. Natural bodies of water, like lakes or the ocean, can be contaminated by animal waste or sewage spills. And many germs live naturally in the environment.

Chlorine can kill a lot of things if given sufficient time to work. But there are some germs that can survive for days, even in a properly disinfected pool. So, Marshall says people really need to be committed to keeping the germs from getting into pools in the first place.

As with most things, it's young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems who are most at risk from getting really sick from swimming-related infections.

The CDC provides the following tips for people to protect themselves from getting sick while swimming:

Avoid Swimming When Sick
As mentioned before, diarrhea is the most common symptom experienced from a swimming-related infection. Be courteous of others and wait until your symptoms have resolved. And this holds true for your children, too.

Practice Good Hygiene
Take a shower before you swim and wash your kids well before allowing them to get into a public pool. And, wash your hands after using the restroom or after changing your child's diaper.

Make Frequent Bathroom Trips
Schedule frequent bathroom breaks so there are no accidents in the water. Change your young child's diaper often. And don't change it at the poolside, do it in the bathroom so the pool area doesn't get contaminated.

Don't Swallow Water
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you should avoid getting the water in your mouth alltogether, and certainly don't swallow it.

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