What the HAYnes? Plagues, parasites and perils of water play

HUMOR – This week is the Center for Disease Control’s Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week 2013. I have to say that it seems like we just celebrated Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week 2012. Didn’t I just put my decorations away?! And I am getting a little tired of the commercialization of Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week.

This week is also the beginning of Washington County School District’s summer recess. Despite the unusually cool May that we have enjoyed, temperatures will soon jump into the triple digits. Many people will be looking for a way to cool down. Many people will consider taking a dip in a public swimming pool.

Many people should think twice about that.

According to a recent report by the Center for Disease Control, 58 percent of swimming pools sampled in the Atlanta, Ga. area contained E. coli, bacteria found in human feces and fast food hamburger patties. You read correctly. Bacteria found in human you-know-what is floating around in swimming pools and you know it came from somewhere.

The results of this sampling do not surprise me. I do not have strong opinions about many things, but it has been a long-held opinion of mine that choosing to swim in a public pool is essentially choosing to bathe in a sea of the dubious hygiene of humanity. I am one who prefers to bathe alone.

Some people would argue that the pools sampled were in the Atlanta area only and therefore are not an accurate representation of swimming pools across the United States. Those people are kidding themselves. I have visited a number of swimming pools across the country and I can tell you with confidence that swimming diapers are no more effective in Washington State than they are in Georgia.

Bottom line: Please wash your body with soap before entering a public swimming pool.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Fine, party pooper. I will just swim on the beach at Sand Hollow Reservoir.”

Cue the “Jaws” theme music.

According to the gal I spoke with when I telephoned Sand Hollow State Park, there have been four cases of Swimmer’s Itch reported so far this season. What is Swimmer’s Itch, you ask? It is an “allergic reaction to a free-swimming microscopic parasite found in shallow water.” That’s right, a parasite.

And this is not one of those cute parasites like a nursing infant or a neighbor kid who eats all of your Otter Pops. This parasite causes itching, burning skin, red bumps, pimples, and sometimes blisters.

Luckily, there are measures you can take to avoid the risk of Swimmer’s Itch. You can towel down or rinse your body off with fresh water. You can avoid swimming in shallow or marshy areas of the reservoir. But the most effective method for reducing the risk of Swimmer’s Itch is to swim at Quail Creek Reservoir instead, or just stay home and hose yourself down.

Besides Swimmer’s Itch and infected pool water, there are many risks to be aware of as you seek to cool off in the water this summer – flesh-eating bacteria, sunburn, drowning, those things that brush against your legs as you wade in lakes and rivers and oceans – things that make you jump 10 feet in the air. Sharks. Jellyfish. Stingrays. You get the idea. Be careful out there.

And Happy Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week, everyone!


Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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