Tips for avoiding a recreational water illness:
Patrons should always practice good hygiene. It is important to shower before swimming or using spray park features and always wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on one's body may get into the water.
Patrons should never drink the water when swimming or using spray park features and should avoid getting water in their mouths to prevent potential illness. It is important to note that water at most spray parks is recycled and should not be consumed.
Patrons must never use spray park features, swimming pools or beaches when they have diarrhea. This is especially important for infants and toddlers in diapers. This may spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
Patrons with children should take them for bathroom breaks and/or check their diapers often. Children's diapers should be changed in a bathroom and not near spray park features, swimming pools or beach areas to prevent the spread of germs and illness.
Blue Green Algae Blooms in Streams, Lakes and Ponds
What is a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)? Most algae are harmless and are an important part of the food web. Algae are naturally present in slow moving streams, lakes, marine waters and ponds in low numbers. Certain types can become abundant and form blooms under the right conditions. Some algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. These are collectively called harmful algal blooms (HABs).
Avoid Algae Blooms -Algae blooms most frequently occur in nutrient-rich waters, particularly during hot, calm weather. Because it is hard to tell a harmful algae bloom from other algae blooms, we recommend avoiding contact with any floating rafts, scums, and discolored water.
Blue-green algae blooms may have the appearance of spilled green paint. Freshwater Blue-green Algal Blooms Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers. Blue-green algae can form HABs that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scums on the surface of the water. These can cause health risks to people and animals when they are exposed to them.
Blue-green algae blooms can occur in freshwater lakes and ponds and can reduce the recreational value of a waterbody, due to unpleasant appearances and odors, and can cause a variety of ecological problems, such as reduced oxygen levels. They also have the potential to form harmful (toxic) blue-green algal blooms, although the factors that cause blue-green algae to produce toxins are not well understood.
Harmful blue-green algae blooms can cause health effects when people and animals come in contact with them. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. Blue-green algae can also produce toxins that affect the liver and nervous systems when water is consumed in sufficient quantities.
What should I do if I see or come in contact with a blue-green algae bloom? If you see it--avoid it
Blue-green algae blooms may have the appearance of pea soup.People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.
Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. Untreated surface water may contain other bacteria, parasites or viruses, as well as algal toxins, that all could cause illness if consumed. People not on public water supplies should not drink surface water, even if it is treated, during an algal bloom because in-home treatments such as boiling or disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV) or water filtration units do not protect people from blue-green algal toxins. If washing dishes in untreated surface water is unavoidable, rinsing with bottled water may reduce possible residues. While we don't know if water containing low levels of blue-green algal toxins could leave residues on dishes, taking this precaution may help reduce possible exposures.
Stop using the water and seek medical attention if needed if symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties occur while in contact with untreated surface waters. However, swimming, bathing or showering with water not visibly affected by a blue-green algae bloom is not expected to cause health effects.
The following illnesses are sometimes spread through recreational water in the United States:
- Cryptosporidium (CDC)
- Giardia (CDC)
- Norovirus (CDC)
- Salmonellosis (CDC)
- Viral Gastroenteritis (Mayo Clinic)
- E. Coli 0157:H7 (CDC)