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Parents Can Help Stop Spread of Water Park Illnesses

SATURDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Too few parents understand their role in stopping the spread of infections at water parks, a new survey suggests.

Each year, more than 10,000 people in the United States get sick from infections picked up at water parks. Having parents and children shower before they go to a water park is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of infection, but there seems to be a lack of awareness about this simple safety measure, according to a poll conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"While 64 percent of parents feel it is very important for children to not swallow water at a water park, only 26 percent of parents think it is very important to shower before getting into the water," poll director Dr. Matthew Davis, an associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the medical school, said in a university news release.

"Parents seem to understand the risk of contaminated water for their kids but few have their kids take the necessary preventive steps to keep everyone healthy," he noted.

The survey of parents of elementary school children also found that 28 percent of respondents feel water park staff alone are responsible for preventing illnesses, while 65 percent believe it's a shared responsibility between parents and water park staff.

"This poll shows that relatively few parents fully understand their role in preventing infections at water parks," Davis said.

"The 'shower before entering' rule posted at water parks nationwide isn't meant to be optional. Showering is a simple and effective way to reduce the spread of germs, including some germs like Cryptosporidium that are not killed with conventional levels of chlorine. When parents let their kids play at a water park without showering, they may be raising the risk of infection for everyone," he explained.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about recreational water illnesses.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, June 20, 2011

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