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Did you know that diseases can be spread through the water we swim in? During the hot summer months, taking a dip in a refreshing pool, lake, river, or stream is a favorite activity for many, but people often don’t realize the dangers that can be associated with swimming.

Some of those dangers are diseases spread through water or recreational water illnesses (RWIs)—illnesses caused by germs and chemicals in the water we swim in. RWIs can be contracted from swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, lakes, rivers, and oceans, and can cause a variety of infections.

Common Recreational Water Illnesses

  • Shigellosis – an infection caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Shigellosis is also called bacillary dysentery, and typically causes symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.
  • Cryptosporidiosis (Crypto) – a parasitic infection that can affect humans and animals. Cryptosporidiosis is most commonly spread by contaminated drinking water or recreational swimming water, and causes symptoms such as watery diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, fever, and stomach pain.
  • E. coli –  or Escherichia coli, is a bacteria that can be found in contaminated water. Some strains of E. coli are harmless, but others can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
  • Giardia – one of the leading causes of diseases spread through water. Giardia is a germ that can be found in recreational swimming water, from swimming pools to streams to lakes. Giardia can be found in the fecal matter of humans and animals who have been infected by it and typically causes diarrhea.
  • Hepatitis A – a viral infection of the liver, can be contracted from contaminated water. Hepatitis A is primarily transmitted through fecal matter and can become a danger in recreational swimming areas if a person accidentally has a bowel movement in a pool or a nearby sewage system floods into swimming waters. After being infected with the virus for a few weeks, you may notice symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and stomach pain.

Diseases Spread Through WaterMany diseases spread through water cause gastrointestinal symptoms, but there are other RWIs that can affect your skin, ears, respiratory system, eyes, and more.

Now that summer is here, be on the lookout for symptoms of recreational water illnesses after you and your family go swimming. If you notice any symptoms, you can visit a FastMed Urgent Care near you for treatment. We’re even open on the weekends, making it easy for you to see a medical professional for your symptoms as soon as they strike!

About FastMed

FastMed Urgent Care owns and operates nearly 200 centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas that provide a broad range of acute/episodic and preventive healthcare services 365 days a year. FastMed also provides workers’ compensation and other occupational health services at all its centers, and family and sports medicine services at select locations. FastMed has successfully treated more than six million patients and is the only independent urgent care operator in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas to be awarded The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information about locations, services, hours of operation, insurance and prices, visit

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