In warm weather, pools, lakes, and rivers are a source of swimming enjoyment for everyone. Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) can include a wide variety of infections, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Learn the facts about the most common illnesses associated with recreational water and what you can do to protect yourself, your family, and others.

Giardia is the leading cause of waterborne disease in the US. It is caused by contaminated drinking water and recreational water. It can be found in swimming pools, hot tubs, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, or streams that can be contaminated with sewage or feces from humans or animals.

Giardia (gee-ARE-dee-uh) is a germ that causes prolonged diarrhea (1-2 weeks). This germ is found in the fecal matter of a person who has been infected by Giardia. It has a tough outer shell that allows it to survive for up to 45 minutes even in properly chlorinated pools. Giardia is microscopic, so it can’t be seen with the naked eye.

All swimmers should take the following easy and effective healthy swimming steps:

Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water

Keep the poop, germs, and pee out of the water!

Parents of young children should take a few extra steps:

For more information about Giardia, please see CDC's Giardia website.

Giardia. (2013). Retrieved July 7th, 2013, from

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