Are you going to travel? Know the dangers to your health of swimming in unsuitable beaches for bathing

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Are you going to travel? Know the dangers to your health of swimming in unsuitable beaches for bathing

Do not ignore alerts about contaminated water on the beach; they can pose health risks

Those who like to travel to beaches in the summer must have already seen red flags or other indications in the sand that inform that the sea ​​water is unsuitable for bathing. There are those who ignore the alert and take the opportunity to go for a swim or take the children to play in the water anyway. However, this attitude it can be quite dangerous.

Weekly, environmental agencies linked to state governments publish bulletins that indicate the quality of more than two thousand Brazilian beaches. They can be classified as proper and improper and serve to alert bathers and tourists about whether or not it is safe to come into contact with these waters.

“The main diseases and infections that are reported by contact with improper water are usually infections of the gastrointestinal tract, mainly, followed by skin infections and, thirdly, respiratory infections”, explains Mirian Dal Ben, infectologist at Hospital Sírio Lebanese.

What does a beach that is unsuitable for swimming mean?

But after all, what does it mean to say that a beach is unfit for swimming? This is a classification made according to the criteria established by Resolution 274 of the National Council for the Environment (CONAMA), of November 29, 2000. According to the resolution, some indicators of micropollution are thermotolerant coliforms (fecal coliforms), bacteria E coli, fecal enterococci and flowering (excessive proliferation of aquatic micro-organisms, mainly algae, which can change the color of the water).

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As a result, the waters are considered unfit for bathing, according to the Resolution, when one of the following occurrences is verified in the evaluated stretch:

  • Value greater than 2500 fecal coliforms per 100 mL of water;

  • Value greater than 2000 of E coli per 100 mL of water;

  • Value greater than 400 enterococci per 100 mL of water;

  • High or abnormal incidence, in the assessed region, of diseases transmissible through contact with water, indicated by health authorities;

  • Presence of residues or discharges, solid or liquid, including sanitary sewage, oils, greases and other substances capable of offering health risks or making recreation unpleasant;

  • Flowering of algae or other organisms until it is proven that there is no risk to human health.

What diseases can you contract when bathing in improper water?

When coming into contact with the bacteria present in unsuitable water (and this is for both seawater and freshwater and swimming pools that may be contaminated) there is a risk of contracting infections that affect mainly the gastrointestinal tract.

Fecal coliforms, including E. coli, are linked to illnesses such as colitis and symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, and in some cases, fever. Enterococci can cause infections such as endocarditis, prostatitis and intra-abdominal infection.

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“Another type of infection that can happen in contact with inappropriate water is skin infection”, explains Mirian. Among the skin infections caused by bacteria, some examples are: infectious cellulitis, impetigo and erysipelas, caused by bacteria of the type Streptococcus.

According to the infectologist, it is also possible to contract a respiratory infection, such as pneumonia, through contact with bacteria present in contaminated water. Among the main causative agents of bacterial pneumonia are: Streptococcus pneumoniae; Haemophilus influenzae; Klebsiella pneumoniae; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Staphylococcus aureus.

“As soon as the person has had contact with contaminated water, he needs to be aware of the signs”, warns Mirian. “Symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea are some important signs that can manifest in less than 24 hours of contact”, lists the specialist.

How to prevent infections in contaminated water?

Are you going to travel to a beach that is unsuitable for swimming? There are some precautions to be taken to prevent contamination from happening. First, of course, try not to swim in the sea. If it happens, avoid putting water in your mouth – and this alert is mainly for children.

“We have to teach the little ones that they shouldn’t put pool or sea water in their mouths. There are many children who, when they are diving or playing, put water in their mouths and spit it out, or even swallow it. This is dangerous”, warns the infectologist.

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If you have a swimming pool at home, it is important always keep it well-groomed and clean, with the ideal chlorine levels for use. “This helps to prevent the main bugs that can cause gastrointestinal infections, such as giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis”, he adds.

Furthermore, children who already have symptomssuch as diarrhea or vomiting, must not enter the sea or swimming pool, in order to avoid contaminating other people. “There are germs that can live up to seven days in the water, contaminating the place in its active form”, explains Mirian. “It is also necessary to always guide children not to have a bowel movement in the water and, in the case of a small child who still uses swimming diapers, parents should be careful so that he does not have a bowel movement while he is in the water”, he adds.

How to know if the beach is unsuitable for swimming?

It is possible to monitor the water quality of a beach through the weekly bulletins published by the environmental entities of each state. This information is easily found on the internet and are always up to date.

Until the publication of this report, 15 beaches on the coast of the state of São Paulo were classified as unsuitable, according to the Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo (Cetesb). In Salvador, Bahia, that number was 36 contaminated beaches, according to the Institute for the Environment and Water Resources (Inema).

In Florianópolis, the last bulletin recorded 34 unsuitable points and the extended beach of Balneário Camboriú, in Santa Catarina, was also completely unsuitable for bathing, according to the Institute of the Environment of the State of Santa Catarina (IMA).

Vitória, in Espírito Santo, had 20 contaminated beaches, according to the Vitória Environmental Secretariat. Finally, until the Christmas weekend, the state of Rio de Janeiro had seven beaches unfit for use, according to the State Institute for the Environment (Inea).

Content for educational purposes only. Consult a Doctor.

The translator user relied on the following source:

Minha Vida Website – REF99827

Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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