This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, May 21, 2015 10:31 AM
A recreational water illness is an illness caused by germs and chemicals found in the water where we swim. An individual could get an RWI while playing in or being around recreational water that has become contaminated with germs or chemicals.
These germs (bacteria, viruses, or parasites) and/or chemicals can enter the human body by:
The health effects of RWIs can range from minor symptoms to serious illness. If someone contacts contaminated water with their skin, they could develop skin, eye, or ear infections/irritations. If they swallow contaminated water, it can cause such symptoms as diarrhea and cramps. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, diarrhea is one of the most commonly reported recreational water illnesses.
Recreational water facilities must be maintained in a safe, sanitary manner to protect bathers from potential exposure to various communicable diseases.