Swimmers at Warm Beaches Can Risk Illness

MIAMI, July 28 (UPI) — People who swim in warm sub-tropical waters such as those found in South Florida face an increased risk of illness, University of Miami researchers suggest.

The Beach Environmental Assessment and Characterization Human Exposure Study involved 1,300 volunteers, local residents who use South Florida beaches,divided into two groups. Members of one group were asked to dunk themselves completely in the water three times during a 15-minute period and the other group stayed out of the water.

A few days later, both groups were telephoned to check on their health.

“We found that when swimming in sub-tropical beach areas with no known pollution or contamination from sewage or runoff, you still have a chance of being exposed to the kind of microbes that can make you sick,” study leader Dr. Lora Fleming, co-director of the Center for Oceans and Human Health at the University of Miami, says in a statement.

“This information is especially important to take into account for children and the elderly, or if you have a compromised immune system and are planning a beach outing.”

The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, swimmers were 1.76 times more likely to report a gastrointestinal illness, 4.46 times more likely to report a fever or respiratory illness and six more times more likely to report a skin illness.

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