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Health Impacts of Bacteria at Iowa Beaches

Health ImpactsE. coli

Health Impacts 

According to the Iowa DNR, E. coli is an indicator species, monitored because it signals that the water has possibly come in contact with fecal matter (wildlife waste, sewage, or manure runoff).  These pollutants can lead to diarrheal diseases, skin, ear, or respiratory infections

How to Identify E. coli in the Water

You cannot visually identify E. coli in the water.  Instead, visit the IDNR’s website to check the status of your beach, or look for posted swim warning signs. 

Preventing Exposure

According to the Iowa DNR, the best ways to avoid exposure are:

  • Avoid swimming after heavy rainfall
  • Avoid swallowing water
  • Check for leaks in your child’s diaper frequently
  • Avoid swimming if you have or have recently had diarrhea

Responding to Exposure

The Iowa Department of Public Health recommends practicing good hygiene before and after going in the water.  If you think you have a recreational water illness that needs medical attention, contact your health care provider. Report suspected recreational water illnesses to your local health department.