Recreational Water Illness

Kruti Patel

How are these diseases contracted?

  • by swimming in polluted waters (places where bacteria count in the water isn't monitored or is monitored, but isn't changed)
  • by spending more time in polluted waters
  • some of these polluted waters mayeven have significant amounts of human feces


Diseases Contracted by Polluted Waters:

  • enterococci- gives gastro-intestinal pain and symptoms, which include diarrhea and vomiting; found in marine and freshwater
  • faecal streptococci- fecal bacteria found in peoples intestines; causes the same symptoms as the enterococci, because they're from the same bacterial family; found in marine and freshwater
  • escherichia coli- commonly called E. Coli and is mainly a cause of foodborne illnesses, however it is commonly found in freshwater; causes the same symptoms as enterococci and faecal streptococci (abdominal pains and intestinal symptoms)
  • cryptosporidium- 15 outbreaks in a one year time frame were caused by this bacteria in a treated water facility; caused gastro-intestinal pain and symptoms, just like E. Coli
  • norovirus- cause of the stomach flu (gastroenteritis); found mainly in freshwater areas


Possible Complications

The most severe of the symptoms include:


  • bloody diarrhea
  • blood in stool
  • severe abdominal pain
  • vomiting

How is the diagnosis made?

Each diagnosis for each disease is a little different. Some of the common ones are:



  • rectal exam
  • check stomach for tenderness
  • look at skin color to see if you are unusually pale
  • stool exam- checking for blood


Relative Frequency

The frequency of these diseases vary according to the amount of time spent in polluted waters by each person. These are the rates of the variety of diseases spread by recreational water:


  • 23% are from an undetermined cause
  • 15% are caused by cryptosporidium
  • 13% are caused by shigella
  • 14% are caused by pseudomonas
  • 11% are caused by naegleria
  • 6% are caused by giardia
  • 6% are caused by E. Coli

Disease Course

The courses of each disease varies, but all in all, the symptoms of the gastrointestinal illnesses shouldn't last for more than 1 week, but it varies from person to person and from illness to illness. This does NOT mean that the symptoms of bloody diarrhea and other heavy conditions will last this long. The main symptom that is known for lasting this long is abdominal pain.



Closely after being infected (within 48 hours), one will start feeling symptoms of whichever illness they are experiencing. The most painful symptoms will happen first and then fade out to slight pains. Most illnesses that cause diarrhea will only last for 1-3 days, but, once again, this varies.

Target Audience: Everyone