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Hartford – Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start of the summer season, which for many Connecticut residents will include visits to swimming pools and beaches. In conjunction with National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week, May 21-27, 2007, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) urges bathers to take steps to prevent recreational water illness.

Outbreaks of recreational water illnesses occur each year in Connecticut and the United States. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sixty-two percent of outbreaks associated with pools are related to the chlorine-resistant pathogen, Cryptosporidium (“Crypto”). This pathogen is introduced into pools 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.

“Beaches and pools are important sites for exercise and leisure,” stated DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M.D., M.P.H. “To make this summer a healthy swimming experience, we urge bathers to take the right steps to reduce the risk of recreational water illnesses and safely  njoy these resources.”

Specific actions you can take to promote healthy swimming include:

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

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.

Please contact your local health department or the DPH Recreation Program at (860) 509-7296 for more information. For more information about Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week, visit

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our  state. To contact the department, please visit its website at or call (860) 509-7270.