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Water-related Illness

Tips to avoid getting sick from swimming

Water-related illnesses are caused by germs that live in fountains, spas, pools, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. You can get a water-related illness by swallowing contaminated water, breathing mists, or by other contact with bodies of water.  

The most commonly reported illnesses are gastrointestinal, including diarrheal illnesses caused by Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, norovirus and shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli. Other water-related illnesses are respiratory, skin, ear, eye, and neurologic infections. In the past two decades, Oregon has seen an increase in the number of recreational water illness outbreaks associated with swimming.

Safe Water Practices Current Recreational Advisories


Reduce your chances of water-related illness

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • Don't go in the water when ill (or recently ill) with diarrheal illness
  • Shower with soap before and after you enter recreational waters
  • Don't swallow the water
  • Don't go into water that is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish-red
  • Change diapers frequently
  • Take bathroom breaks at least every 60 minutes

Learn about common illnesses from recreational water and how to protect yourself