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Recreational Water Illness and Injury

Healthy Swimming

Every year, thousands of Americans get sick after recreating in water, because of germs found in places where people swim. Every day, ten Americans die from drowning.1

Cryptosporidium and Giardia are two of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. On average, there are close to 200 cases of cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis reported in Montana every year. One third of these persons reported swimming in the days before they became ill.

Drowning deaths are most common in Montana between June and August and are more likely to occur in natural bodies of water. Over the past five years, there have been an average of 15 drowning deaths per year in Montana - many of these deaths are due to drowning in natural waters. Every day, three children under the age of 14 die from drowning in the United States.

As prevention strategies, DPHHS hosted a poster contest for elementary school children in 2014 and 2015. This year, we are reminding Montanans again how to stay healthy when swimming by following these prevention steps:

  • Shower with soap before entering pool
  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea
  • Don’t swallow pool water
  • Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30-60 minutes
  • Supervise swimmers, especially young and inexperienced ones - be a role model for others
  • Learn life-saving skills
  • Use life vests where applicable
  • Avoid distractions such as alcohol, drugs or cell phone use around water


Additional resources:

DPHHS 2018 Press Release on Healthy Swimming

Toolkit for Healthy Swimming

CDC webpage for Healthy Swimming

CDC Feature: Healthy Swimming

1 http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html