Bali’s beaches are one of the main interests that draw visitors to the island. Did you know you could get sick from swimming in the beaches? Some can even result in serious illnesses that may last longer than your vacation. Here are some things you should know before swimming at the beach.
Although the beach might look clean, no one can be sure that the water, (not only seawater), doesn’t contain disease-causing microorganisms, which are hidden to the human eye.
Water can be polluted by various things. The most frequent sources of disease-causing microorganisms are from sewage overflows, polluted storm water runoff, sewage treatment plant malfunctions, boating wastes and malfunctioning septic systems.
Pollution in beach water is often much higher during and immediately after rainstorms because water draining into the beach may be carrying sewage from over-flowing sewage treatment systems. Rainwater also flows to the beaches after running off lawns, farms, streets, construction sites and other urban areas, picking up animal waste, fertilizer, pesticides, trash and many other pollutants. Many of these pollutants can end up in the water at the beaches.
When someone is exposed, either by swallowing water or just by skin contact, to enough microorganisms, that person can suffer:
- Digestive disturbances, such as diarrhea (the most common symptom), stomach cramping, vomiting, etc
- Skin rashes
- Ear infections
- Eye infections
- Respiratory infections
These diseases are classified as Recreational Water Illness (RWI). These diseases can infect other sources of water, not only beaches, but also lakes, rivers, and even good maintained, chlorinated water, such as swimming pools, decorative water fountains, hot tubs and spas.
What’s the best way to avoid getting a RWI from the beach?
- Avoid swimming after heavy rain.
- Look for storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets) along the beach. Don’t swim near them.
- Look for trash and other signs of pollution such as oil slicks in the water. These kinds of pollutants may indicate the presence of disease causing microorganisms that may also have been washed into the water.
- Take a bath / shower, with soap, after swimming. If you don’t have access to bathe after swimming, rinse your body with clean water (or at least water that is clear, odorless, tasteless, or you think is quite clean).
- Don’t swim if you don’t feel well. You might be more susceptible to disease.