Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Keep on Swimming!

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Keep on Swimming!

Article excerpt

This month's column updates the medley of healthy swimming initiatives by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Let's dive right into

* Recreational Water Illness (RWI) Prevention Week 2010,

* the New Pool Inspection Data Study and

* the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC).

RWI Prevention Week 2010

RWI Prevention Week will be celebrated May 24-30, 2010, in many jurisdictions across the United States and at CDC. This week highlights the public's significant role in practicing healthy swimming behaviors and showcases one of the many important environmental health (EH) programs in our partner state and local agencies. Support materials, including a publicity tool kit, are available on the Healthy Swimming Web site at

New for RWI Prevention Week 2009 were two short CDC videos: "In the Swim of Things" and "Healthy Swimming Is No Accident." These videos can be used by our public health partners and broadcast to promote healthy swimming. Additionally, more than 250,000 copies of new English and Spanish healthy swimming brochures (Figure 1) and pool chemical safety posters (Figure 2) were distributed. Order yours free today on the Healthy Swimming Web site.

Has RWI Prevention Week made a difference? The annual event has brought national, regional, and local media attention to healthy swimming behaviors and to the important EH programs that protect the health of our communities. Each year related publicity has grown substantially in the number of printed and electronic media pieces and its geographic spread across the country. RWI Prevention Week 2009 saw the largest number of participating jurisdictions to date, and it even broke into the realm of blogs. Participating partners can showcase their important state and local EH roles in RWI prevention through their local media.

Successful efforts that prevent RWIs are at least in part based on the following:

* communication (e.g., within and among health departments and with community partners such as pool operators),

* education of the swimming public, and

* regulation.

The experience of colleagues in three jurisdictions underscores this. In 2007, state and local EH specialists and epidemiologists in Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Utah collaborated to investigate and control large RWI outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis in their respective jurisdictions. To prevent such outbreaks in 2008, each jurisdiction developed and implemented proactive measures (e.g.,,, and before the start of the 2008 traditional summer swim season, with the biggest push occurring during RWI Prevention Week. As a result, relatively few sporadic cryptosporidiosis cases were identified in each of the jurisdictions in 2008. Communication and education are core to RWI Prevention Week programming and have contributed to improving aquatic health in these communities.

Aquatic Health Inspection Report Study

The Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report to be issued during RWI Prevention Week 2010 will include a report on the new Pool Inspection Data Study, the second leg of our healthy swimming medley. This study is a repeat of the popular and informative--but limited--2002 study of 22,000 pool inspections from six state and local jurisdictions (CDC, 2003).

The new study represents a collaborative effort with 19 EH programs (12 local and seven state) that contributed approximately 150,000 pool inspection reports from 2008 for analysis. The 2010 NEHA Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition (June 6-9 in Albuquerque, New Mexico) Aquatic Health Educational Track will include Elizabeth Dunbar's (study coordinator) presentation on the study's findings and how they can be utilized in evidence-based EH program decision making. …

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