General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

With the new awareness of brain-eating bacteria and other parasites, is it safe or adviseable to swim in untreated creek water or spring water?

Asked by Yellowdog (8023points) 4 weeks ago

I used to get severe ear infections from swimming in untreated water, such as the Tennessee River or horseplay with canoes and paddle boats, causing capsization.

Covertly, I’ve always liked the idea of a water feature for swimming that used a well pump or artesian well source, or a natural spring.

I’ve heard of at least once case of brain-eating bacteria infesting victims at a spring-fed waterpark.

So, can a natural, untreated water source ever safe from bacteria and parasites? Must we always swim in treated water?

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28 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I did, all my life.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s stagnant water that is the problem.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’m not convinced that it is safe even in the treated water. There was a water park in North Carolina just a few years back where a young man .died from one of those brain-eating bacteria. The water was treated…just not treated properly. They closed the park down until the water could be treated with a heavier dose of chemicals.

I lost my ability to swim when I had my stroke, so water related activities were taken off the list of fun things I cared to do & I really haven’t missed it that much!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Once again, I’ll use my magic powers of common sense when I decide where to swim this summer.
@ARE_you_kidding_me ‘s comment just hit me…Rick grew up swimming in strip pits created by strip mining for coal…and I suppose they’re “stagnant,” but they’re also more clear than normal lakes and they don’t look stagnate, except at the ends.
I have been dying to go boating and swimming in one or two. You can see so far down. I watched perch and minnows play yesterday.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hmm. I also noticed that there were a lot of air bubbles that seeped up through the coal floor, so maybe it’s not really stagnate….?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Awareness doesn’t cause bacteria. Bacteria causes bacteria.

The issue is that looking into clear water doesn’t guarantee bacteria or lack of bacteria. It’s a crapshoot.

If it looks safe and isn’t downstream from a sewage plant, it’s likely pretty good.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Awareness doesn’t cause bacteria. Bacteria causes bacteria. LOLLL! Well, apparently awareness causes excessive heat indexes!

KNOWITALL's avatar

Generally, I stick to pools anymore or the deep underground wells there for hundreds of years, like Eminence, MO. And I read water quality reports before camping.

Too many people here have went swimming and got infections from dirty rivers, like the James.

MrGrimm888's avatar

My understanding is that it enters the body, through your nose mainly.
Like others, I have swam in all sorts of waterways. One of NY favorite rivers, is infamous for having that bacteria. I’ve had the water up my nose, and have swallowed plenty of it. I’m still alive. (Although whether or not my brain was eaten, is probably debatable.)...

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Grimm Here you dont get in if you have an open wound. You swell up.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^That’s also true. But I’ve been bleeding in the water too. Maybe I have a built-in resistance to the bacteria? ....

Dutchess_III's avatar

YOU COULD HAVE BEEN EATEN BY A SHARK GOING IN THE WATER WHEN YOU WERE BLEEDING!!!!!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Flowing blood is actually better than a three day old partially healed cut that’s not flowing.

As someone with native Indian blood, you also could have more genetic resistance, yes. I’ve personally never had any issues with that kind of thing, don’t get poison ivy, etc…

You should really read up on the health issues you’re more or less likely to get with native blood, as well. Such as diabetes, hypertension, etc…

Dutchess_III's avatar

Our whole family got some sort of infection at a lake after we went swimming once. I remember my nose being crusty and Mom applying medicine that smelled funny.
Didn’t stop us from going back to the lake.

I don’t think that having Native American blood has a thing to do with being more naturally resistant to bacteria than any other race. We all came to our present form running around totally wild in nature. Europeans, Africans and Asians are no exception.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Dutchess_III
Being native (local) has benefits. As an adult I learned that the creeks I played in as a kid were crawling with giardia. People from outside the area often got it but I never did nor did anyone around me. There is some “local immunity” to stuff.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh. You’re talking about immunity. I thought she meant genetics. Well, I need to research how one can become immune to a parasite….It has the ring of truth, though. You hear all the time of people coming back from places like the Amazon with awful illnesses that the locals don’t get.

Yellowdog's avatar

That’s because the locals in the Amazon are primarily Native American, genetically. :-}

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait.. she DID suggest that having Native American blood may have been the source of resistance! Well, maybe it’s true. IDK.
I know that the natives didn’t have resistance to the plague and small pox that many Europeans had.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I don’t get ring worms either. Not sure why…..

KNOWITALL's avatar

@MrGrimm Mosquitos dont like my blood lol. My husband isnt as lucky.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yeah. You might be onto something, with the Indian blood…

Dutchess_III's avatar

I do not react to mosquito bites any more. I used to, but not any more. It’s odd, but I sure am glad.

Yellowdog's avatar

I sell my blood to mosquitoes. Ten dollars a bite.

If they don’t pay me, and bite, they get the death penalty.

LadyMarissa's avatar

According to this NC news report it can happen in any warm, freshwater location.

More info on the disease

MrGrimm888's avatar

It can’t be THAT common. Or everyone in the south would be dead….

LadyMarissa's avatar

NC has had 2 people die since June 1. Similar problem last year except it was at a major water park. They jerked that one off the news real fast. God forbid that they lose any revenue!!!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@MrGrimm At least its not a beach in Cali full of e coli. I’d take my chances here any day over that mess.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yeah. Well. I guess I just don’t worry about the stuff in the water.

When I worked at the emergency veterinary hospital, we had three cases (dogs) with flesh eating bacteria. They all died. That’s a big fatality rate. But if you think of the statistics, it’s great. I only saw those three, in almost nine years… We saw thousands of patients.

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