Beat 16 Summer Health Hazards

water-park
Credit: Getty Images

Recreational water illnesses (RWI)

Stats: RWI cases have increased substantially over the last two decades—as much as 200%.

Risks: All public swimming areas can harbor bacteria that cause gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. The most common: diarrhea. Accidentally swallowing water that's been contaminated with feces boosts your risk; that's why public pools ask you to shower before swimming.

Should you worry?: Anyone who swallows contaminated water can catch a RWI. Bacteria can live for days, even in properly chlorinated pools. As for those brain-eating amoebas you've heard about in the news, no need for alarm—there were just 31 infections reported in the United States between 2003 and 2012.

Next: Drowning