29 degrees, that’s how hot it could have been yesterday according to the weather forecast. With those temperatures, it is tempting for many people to take a splash in the nearest water. But is swimming in uncontrolled natural water safe?
De IJzeren Man in Eindhoven, Aquabest in Best, Laco swimming pool Nuenen, and the Wolfsven near Geldrop. These are all well-known places that people can visit if they want to take a refreshing dip. The water is controlled, clean and safe.
At water board De Dommel they let us know that swimming at these spots does not pose any health risks. “We regularly check official swimming water locations for pathogens”, the water board says.
“Also, the area surrounding the swimming water is managed and kept clean, which greatly reduces the chance of nuisance rodents and other wild animals. Canals, streams and ditches are not official swimming waters and are therefore not monitored”. A spontaneous dive into the canal or De Dommel, therefore, can have unwanted consequences, the water board warns.
One of the risks often mentioned is Weil’s disease, which swimmers can contract. GGD Brabant Zuidoost (joint health service) explains. “Weil’s disease is caused by the Leptospira bacteria. This is transmitted through the urine of animals, often rats. How many infected animals live in and around water can vary greatly, so the risk can also vary greatly”.
Every year, about thirty people across the country catch Weil’s disease, but not all of them are due to contact with natural water, according to the GGD. Contact with infected animals, or with contaminated mud during a mud run also occurs. The chance of the bacteria spreading and making more people sick does increase with warm weather, heavy rainfall and flooding, the GGD says.
So how unsafe is it to swim in uncontrolled natural water? The health risks don’t seem to be too high. However, the De Dommel water board and the GGD strongly urge you to only swim in safe natural water. An overview of safe swimming water can be found on zwemwater.nl.
Translated by: Bob