River, Lake Swimming Can Be Unsafe, UT Vet Says

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Swimmers can prevent a diarrhea-causing illness by bathing before and after taking a dip in Tennessee rivers and lakes, a University of Tennessee veterinarian said Wednesday.

Water flowing into rivers and lakes after a rain can be contaminated with bacteria found in animal wastes, Dr. Ralph Hall said.

The parasites can cause diarrhea, liver damage and other sickness in humans, he said.

Hall said steps swimmers can take to reduce the risk of infection include:

* Bathing before swimming, which helps create a protective barrier on the skin, and bathing afterwards to remove organisms from the skin.

* Avoiding swimming in rivers and lakes near storm drains.

* Avoiding swallowing lake or river water.

* Waiting at least 72 hours after a rain before swimming because rainfall increases the amount of waste and contaminants from storm drains and fields.

Contact: Dr. Ralph Hall (423-974-5568)