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Swimming in contaminated pools, hot tubs, water park attractions, decorative fountains, rivers, lakes, bays, and oceans can cause infections of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis), and skin (infectious dermatitis). Less often, other areas of the body are affected by waterborne disease. These include the ears, eyes, wounds, the respiratory tract, and the nervous system.
Swimmers can get gastroenteritis from water contaminated by viruses, parasites, or bacteria.
See fact sheets on viral gastroenteritis, giardiasis, and cryptosporidiosis, shigellosis, and E. coli O157:H7 for more information about these diseases. Swimmers can also get gastroenteritis from other bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Dermatitis can be caused by chemicals such as too much chlorine in the water (chemical dermatitis) or by germs such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. A bacteria called Pseudomonas often causes infections in hot tubs, spas, and whirlpools
Swimming-related illnesses can be prevented:
Pools stay clean by proper filtration and chlorine and pH levels, but chlorine does not kill all of the organisms that can cause infections.
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