For Immediate Release
May 25, 2011

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week

Topeka – This week is Recreational Water Illness (RWI) and Injury Prevention Week, which raises awareness about healthy and safe swimming behaviors. RWIs are illnesses that can be spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans.

Individuals should also avoid stagnant water, avoid playing in or near masses of blue-green algae and avoid water during and after a heavy rainfall which can cause contamination in streams, rivers and lakes. Chemicals in the water or that evaporate from the water can cause indoor air quality problems resulting in illness.  RWIs include a wide variety of infections, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. The most commonly reported water related illness is diarrhea.
To help protect yourself and others from RWIs there are several things you can do: 

RWI’s theme this year spotlights swimmer’s ear. Swimmer's ear (also known as otitis externa) is an infection of the outer ear canal that can cause pain and discomfort for millions of Americans every year. This infection is preventable and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging swimmers to follow the Swimmer’s Ear Prevention Guidelines below.

For more information on RWI prevention, visit  

For more information about healthy swimming, visit CDC’s Healthy Swimming

To report a illness associated with an blue-green algal bloom, visit

To report a harmful algal bloom, visit