Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 5/16/2007
Contact: Kevin Metcalfe, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist
Phone: (707) 445-6215

The Department of Health and Human Services Environmental Health Division wishes to inform the public that the week proceeding Memorial Day (May 21-27, 2007) has been designated as National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The goal of this year’s recognition is to highlight the importance of healthy swimming behaviors for preventing recreational water illnesses. Outbreaks of recreational water illnesses continue to occur in the United States each year. Sixty-two percent of these outbreaks are related to the chlorine-resistant pathogen, Cryptosporidium, (“Crypto”) which is introduced into the pool by swimmers who are ill with diarrhea and spread to other swimmers when they swallow the contaminated water. These outbreaks underscore the continuing need to educate people about recreational water illness prevention to ensure a healthy swimming experience.
Locally, Environmental Health provides oversight and inspection of 50 public swimming pool and spa pool facilities. Our inspectors and many pool managers have received Certified Pool Operator training – a professional training course provided by the National Swimming Pool Foundation. Our efforts, along with the cooperation of pool operators, has improved pool chemistry, assured adequate disinfection and filtration, and has eliminated suction hazards for the health and safety of pools users. Another significant part of the healthy swimming equation is swimmers behaviors.
Awareness of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) and healthy swimming behaviors play an important role in stopping transmission of RWIs. Germs on and in swimmers’ bodies end up in the water and can make other people sick. Even healthy swimmers can get sick from RWIs, but the young, elderly, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons are especially at risk. Specific actions you can take to promote healthy swimming include:

1. Do not swim when you have diarrhea.
2. Do not swallow pool water or get pool water in your mouth.
3. Shower before swimming (children too!).
4. Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
5. Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often.
6. Change children’s diapers in a bathroom, not at poolside.

Recreational water venues are important sites for exercise and leisure. To make this summer a Healthy Swimming experience, the Environmental Health Division and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge swimmers to continue to enjoy swimming, but only after adopting healthy swimming behaviors to reduce the risk of recreational water illnesses.

For more information about Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week and Healthy Swimming visit Additional information may be obtained from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division Environmental Heath at 707-445-6215 or toll free at 1-800-963-9241.


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