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Waterborne Illnesses Lurk in a Crowd

If you are concerned about contracting an illness while having fun in the water, you should probably be more wary about swimming in a crowd than about water that tested high for E. coli. The Minnesota Department of Health reports that the most common illnesses contracted by swimmers are surface infections transferred from one bather to another in crowded swimming areas (rashes and swimmer's ear caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, for example). The most common illness associated with swallowing contaminated water is gastroenteritis (diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium, for example). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tally data for recreational water illnesses (RWI); they report roughly 10,000 cases of diarrhea and 2.4 million cases swimmer's ear every year.

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