Recreational Water Illnesses

Recreational water illnesses (RWI) can affect the skin, ears, respiratory system, brain, or gastrointestinal system. They are found in water that is contaminated by germs or chemicals and they are contracted through germs from swallowing, inhaling, or contact with cuts. Water illnesses can also occur from chemicals in the water at water parks, and can spread from germs in the water at water parks. 


RWI can include many different types of illnesses such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash
  • Respiratory infection
  • Chemical burn of eyes and lungs


Other illnesses that can spread through towels and unclean water park facilities include head lice, MRSA, and pinworm. This being said, when you are at the waterpark, it is best not to allow your child in the water if they have had an upset stomach or diarrhea because that could spread to other children in the water. If you or your child has an open wound or laceration, it is best to avoid the waterpark or other recreational waters as to not contract germs and illnesses that could spread into a wound. Also, make sure that if your children are not potty trained, that they are wearing waterproof diapers into the water.

Water parks can also be a huge source of fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot and other viruses could cause foot warts. It is best to rinse feet thoroughly before and after playing in the water park. Another suggestion is to wear water shoes which could help to prevent slipping as well as prevent foot fungus from spreading.


  • Legionnaires’ disease – Caused from the breathing in of small water droplets, like mist, which oftentimes you will see at waterparks. When the pumps that release the water mist are not properly cleaned and disinfected, the infected water droplets can get into lungs and respiratory system. This can lead to pneumonia, which is a serious illness. It could even be fatal.
  • Cryptosporidium – A parasite that spreads through human feces and can cause stomach pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. These symptoms usually appear days after the initial contact, so keeping an eye out for these symptoms after going to the waterpark can be helpful to not mistaking it for the flu.
  • Hepatitis A – Usually spread through contamination of water with fecal matter. The symptoms for Hepatitis A could include fever, liver pain, rash, fatigue, and yellowish skin. Be especially mindful of Hepatitis A and its symptoms if you or your child has a chronic liver illness, because it will be harder to fully recover from Hepatitis A with this type of illness.

Prevention and Getting Help

These recreational water illnesses can be present in water that is not properly cleaned and maintained. If you see water in the park that is an odd color or looks cloudy, report it to a manager or staff member at the park. Remember to take safety and health precautions like wearing water shoes, putting young children in waterproof diapers, and taking showers right after the exposure to a water park. If you or a loved one has contracted one of these illnesses after going to the waterpark, reach out to us and speak with an attorney about your illness.

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