Gastrointestinal illnesses affect a person's stomach and intestines, and can cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. The following gastrointestinal illnesses have been associated with recreational water activities:
Crypto has become one of the most common causes of water recreation diarrhea illness in the United States. The germ is found in people's stool. It's highly resistant to chlorine disinfection and can survive in a pool for as long as ten days. Swallowing contaminated water is how people are often infected. To help stop the spread of Crypto, people with diarrhea shouldn't go swimming. Learn more at Crypto, CDC.
Giardia is another common cause of diarrhea and is found in infected people's stool. It can take about 45 minutes for this germ to be killed by chlorine disinfection in pools. You shouldn't swim if you have diarrhea and you should always avoid swallowing water while swimming. Learn more at Giardia, CDC.
Shigella causes severe diarrhea, which is often bloody. It can be spread if an infected person with diarrhea swims or plays in areas such as beaches or inadequately disinfected pools. Having hand washing stations with soap near swimming areas helps keep the water from becoming contaminated. Daycare centers shouldn't provide water play areas. Learn more at Shigellosis, CDC.
E. coli O157:H7
People have gotten an E. coli infection by swallowing lake water while swimming. Symptoms are similar to Shigella and include severe diarrhea and bloody stool. This infection can also be life-threatening and cause permanent damage to the kidneys. Swimming in inadequately disinfected pools or contaminated beaches are potential sources of infection. Learn more at E. coli, CDC.
Noroviruses are very contagious and can spread through an infected person's stool or vomit. The illness often begins suddenly and usually includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Chlorine disinfection helps kill this virus in pools, but lakes and beaches can be contaminated. Avoid swallowing water while swimming to help prevent infection. Learn more at Norovirus, CDC.