Information for Recreational Water Employees and Managers: Preventing Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)- Minnesota Dept. of Health

Diarrheal Illness in Recreational Water Employees

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Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are spread by swallowing or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, hot tubs, splash pads, and lakes. These illnesses can cause a variety of symptoms, but the most common is diarrhea.

RWI transmission

Swimming while ill can easily contaminate the water – even if you don’t have an accident. If someone swallows water that has been contaminated, he or she may become sick.

Chlorine does not kill germs instantly.


Disinfectant Time*

E. coli O157:H7 Less than 1 minute
Hepatitis A About 16 minutes
Giardia About 45 minutes
Cryptosporidium About 10.6 days

*For a water with 1ppm free chlorine at pH 7.5 and 77°F

You can help prevent RWIs

  • Do not swim while you have diarrhea.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom.
  • Shower (with soap) before you get in the water.
  • Do not swallow the water.
  • Encourage patrons and co-workers to also follow these healthy swimming steps!

Employee responsibilities

It is important that we keep the water safe and healthy for everyone.
If you experience any symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea:

  • Notify management.
  • Do not work if you have diarrhea or vomiting. You should not return to work until symptoms have stopped.
  • Contact your health care provider if you have any concerns about your health.

If you are diagnosed with the parasite Cryptosporidium

Cryptosporidium (often called “Crypto”) is one of the most common RWIs. Unfortunately, Crypto can easily spread in water and is resistant to chlorine.
If you are diagnosed with Crypto:

  • Report the illness to management.
  • Do not work while you have diarrhea.
  • Do not enter the water (e.g., lifeguard, teach swim lessons) until 2 weeks after symptoms have stopped. In order to protect the health of others, it is important that people who have Cryptosporidium stay out of the water during this time. You may temporarily be given alternate work assignments that do not put patrons or co-workers at risk of getting sick.

Updated Wednesday, 15-Nov-2017 14:16:03 CST