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McHenry County health department set to start beach sampling program

Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Department of Health will begin its beach sampling program Wednesday to ensure residents enjoy a safe and healthy swimming season. 

Testing of the county’s 38 beaches is conducted a minimum of every two weeks, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, to monitor for E. coli bacteria – a health risk indicator.  Samples are taken from both shallow and deep areas and are compared with acceptable limits set by the state health department.  

Sample results are posted regularly and can include a swimmer’s advisory or closure of the beach, if elevated E. coli levels are found. Beach results are posted online at www.mcdh.info, link to Environmental Health, “public beaches.”

The best way to prevent recreational water illness is to reduce one’s risk. Everyone can help create healthy swimming experiences this summer by following these steps: 

• Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.

• Don’t swallow the water.

• Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before and after swimming; wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.

• Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.

• Change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area.

• Wash children (after toileting) with soap and water before they go swimming.

• Don’t swim 24 hours after a heavy rainfall.  

Gastroenteritis-type exposure to contaminated recreational waters could result in illnesses including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain with headache and low grade fever. 

Early public notification can prevent additional people from getting sick. 

If you become sick after swimming at a McHenry County beach, notify the health department at 815-334-4585 as well as the beach operator.

For information about healthy swimming, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/. 

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