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Health Hazards in Swimming

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Recently, Edgewater was closed due to sewer overflow. Sewer overflow has not happened for three years but due to the recent wave of storms, officials saw fit to close the beach. “Bacteria levels can reach unsafe levels for swimming and other shoreline activities when the sewer overflow system empties into Lake Erie.” www.wkyc.com However, testing of the waters is expected to result in a favorable rating. Swimmers will be able to enjoy the beach during this sweltering season.

Along with sewer levels, swimmers need to be concerned about the effects of bacterial levels that bring on illnesses. According to the CDC “recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans.” www.cdc.gov Humans release themselves in the water, dogs, multiple types of insects, larva, fish, algae, and garbage filter the waters of Lake Erie with their presence making it reasonable for bacterial survival. “The major human health concern for recreational use of Lake Erie waters is microbiological contamination (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites). Human exposure occurs primarily through ingestion of polluted water, and can also occur through the entry of water into the ears, eyes, nose, broken skin, and through contact with the skin. Gastrointestinal disorders and minor skin, eye, ear, nose and throat infections have been associated with microbiological contamination.” www.great-lakes.net An individual may experience those symptoms associated with gastrointestinal disorders like watery diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and pain, dehydration, tiredness, loss of appetite, and often bloody stools. During episodes of illness, individuals should be aware of their personal hygiene due to the effectiveness of the bacteria. Treatment for most bacterial infections is the use of antibiotics.

Swimmers should take heed to warnings and only visit the waters during safe times. Even during safe times careful attention should be made to health safety as well as physical safety.

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