News Flash


Posted on: May 22, 2017


MEMPHIS – As graduation season ends and summer break begins, Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) officials want to remind the community to follow a few simple behaviors to ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience.

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week is celebrated annually the week prior to Memorial Day.

This year’s theme “Diarrhea and Swimming Don’t Mix” focuses on the importance of staying out of recreational water if experiencing diarrhea symptoms to help keep others healthy.


Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists of aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, oceans or rivers.

Diarrhea is the most common RWI and is often caused by germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, norovirus, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7. Other common RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Children, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs.

Healthy swimming behaviors include the following:

  • Don’t swim when experiencing diarrhea symptoms. 
  • Don’t swallow pool water. 
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower before swimming and wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Organisms on the body end up in the water.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not poolside. Organisms can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the pool and spread illness.
  • Wash children thoroughly with soap and water before swimming.

Injuries and drownings can also occur in and around recreational water. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children aged one to four years old. Every day, two children less than 14 years old die from drowning. 

Additional information on water safety is available at To report a suspected waterborne illness or potential inspection violation, call SCHD at (901) 222-9000.

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