Oklahoma State Department of Health warns Oklahomans about Waterborne Diseases

Oklahoma State Department of Health warns Oklahomans about Waterborne Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has urged Oklahoman’s to take caution when swimming in natural bodies of water which may contain waterborne diseases. Photo by Ryan Naeve, The Vista.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health sent out a reminder in a press release several days ago urging Oklahomans to take precautions when swimming in natural bodies of water, stating that the water is untreated and could potentially be harmful.

Untreated water can have waterborne diseases that can cause illnesses such primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), norovirus, skin reactions and infections from blue-green algae, and E. coli. The chances of these increase in late summer due to the heat.

Rachel Clinton, epidemiologist for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said, “The risk of illness for a person comes when they have contact with what we call natural bodies of water, or water that’s not treated.”

Swallowing untreated water can also lead to vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. There are precautions in place to try and avoid these things.

Some of those precautions include plugging your nose when you jump in the water, wearing swimming goggles and ear plugs and checking the water conditions before going swimming.

“Prevention is good because you never know what you are going to come in contact with,” Clinton said.

Water conditions can be found on the Travel Oklahoma website under Oklahoma lake conditions, but remember to check for signs around the area before swimming and look at the water in general for a quick inspection.

Erin Hatfield, Public Information Officer for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, said, “You want to stay away from an area where water is stagnant and warm, or there is floating debris, scum and certainly if there is a dead fish in the area. You also want to avoid swimming near storm drains.”

Once out of the water, Hatfield also said it is important to wash off with water and soap to get any bacteria off that could have remained on you from being in the water.

Hatfield included that it is important to take precautions to help with spreading diseases. For example, if you are swimming with children, it is important to take them to the bathroom frequently, use swim diapers on babies and rinse off before getting in the water. Also, if you are sick it is not a good idea to swim in the water.

Kris Kneifing, Water Resources Superintendent for the City of Edmond stated that Edmond’s water does come from Lake Arcadia, as well as 56 water wells.

However, Kneifing mentioned the water is safe to drink, “We know that our water is safe through multiple rounds of testing. We test it every four hours to make sure the influent qualitywhich is what we are drawing from the lake, and what we’re sending out is meeting the water quality standards.”

According to Lake Arcadia officials, there have not been any recent reports of waterborne diseases in the lake at this time.

Lake El Reno, however, has experienced a recent blue-green algae problem that has caused officials to shut the lake down to swimmers until test results are back of the samples that were sent in.

El Reno City Manager Dan Galloway said that a report had been sent in of a sighting of the algae. Galloway said that the algae is in just one corner of the lake where samples from that section and the rest of the lake have been sent in for testing.

“People were growing concerned, so I decided to close the lake until we know more about it. We hope to get the test results back sometime next week,” Galloway said.

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