As the weather heats up in Sacramento County, residents will be heading to the water to cool off. Whether it’s a public swimming pool, water park, or our lakes and rivers, you should be aware of healthy swimming habits.
The water we swim in is rarely germ free. Even when the concentration of pool chemicals is well maintained, or a lake or river looks clear, bacteria and microorganisms can still be present.
Sacramento County Regional Parks
has informational signs posted at Lower American River at common river access locations with historically high E. coli readings such as Discovery Park Boat Launch, Tiscornia Beach and Howe Avenue River Access. Most E. coli strains are harmless and do not cause human illness. They are the helpful bacteria found in the intestines of mammals – humans, pets, wildlife and birds. Increased levels of E. coli does not necessarily equate to an increased exposure risk for swimmers. E. coli are generally found in all recreational waters.
Certain algae can cause severe illness or skin rashes. Sacramento County Public Health
and Environmental Management
advises the public and pet owners to stay away from water with foam, scum or mats – which indicates an algae bloom. Naturally occurring algae bacteria can be toxic and can be green, blue-green, white or brown. If toxic algae touches skin or is accidentally inhaled or swallowed by people, pets or livestock, it can cause rash, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), and in large quantities, cause neurological or liver damage and lead to death. Reactions can occur within a few hours to days after exposure. Medical treatment should be sought if any person, pet or livestock is suspected of having been poisoned by algae toxins. Learn more about harmful algae blooms by visiting the My Water Quality website
Healthy swimming habits are a must for anyone enjoying public lakes, rivers and waterways:
- Do not drink recreational water or use the water for cooking.
- Do not enter the water if you have cuts or open sores, as these are pathways for bacteria to enter your body.
- Avoid algae blooms (brightly colored water).
- Wash your hands before eating.
- Shower after swimming.
- Pay attention and follow any warning signs and postings. Do not access a water body if posted warnings indicate it is not safe to do so.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns regarding your health after swimming in recreational waters.