T Nation

Waterborne Disease Prevention


In six week's time I'll be doing a water rescue technican's course. About three quarters of the people who have already done this course have become seriously ill from the water. My question: Is there anything I could take to "toughen up" my system? And, no, recommending not to swallow the water doesn't count!!!


Has anyone atually isolated the water as the source of their infection? If so, why would a course still be held wherever that is?


Good point Prof. Something doesn't add up.


no. i went to the dominican republic over spring break this year with a group of about 30 and we were fine down there, but all got sick a few days after we got back. no one knows what it is... maybe that waterfall we went to, lol. either way, get some malaria medication if you are doing overseas, its preventative but some people get upset stomachs from it.


To be honest, it's an educated guess. The last course had twelve ppl on it and everyone got sick to some degree, including one "lucky" guy who literally pooped his pants because he couldn't make it to a toilet...
It's not malaria, it's just outside London/UK. Lol




Just a tip, but if I suspected water was infectious, I would avoid swimming in it. I would raise hell about the issue, hoping to get it moved. Is this not an option?


Well first of all, what the infectious agent actually is should be known. If multiple people are getting sick from swimming in the same area this generally sets of the alarm bells for public health people. I'm really surprised they haven't tested the sick people and the source of infection by now. So either it is a bacetrial or viral disease. If it is bacterial and you knew what sort of bacterium you were dealing with you could presumabley take antibiotics in a preventative manner.

I think that is a poor use of antibiotics, of course. If it is viral there isn't much you can do. I suppose it could also be protozoan, like giardia or something similar.

What you can do is simply not swim in that water. That seems like a pretty good idea. I'd ask whoever is giving this course why they don't have it in non-polluted water? I mean is there actually a need for you to swim in sewage contaminated water (which is likely what this is if you're getting diarrheal type infections from it)?

As for malaria, it was actually endemic in England way back in the day. In fact I think there were outbreaks as recently as WWII (from native malaria, there might be sporadic cases from people infected with malaria coming over). But it doesn't make you shit yourself like that.