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Web Exclusive - July 2012

Boost Your RWI Knowledge

New Course, Handbook Help Aqua Pros Prevent Problems

A new training course and handbook from the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) intends to help aquatic facility professionals understand and prevent illnesses, with the goal of ensuring safer swimming for pool-goers. The Recreational Water Illnesses online training course and handbook will help public health officials, pool operators, aquatic managers, pool/spa service companies, suppliers and manufacturers to gain a comprehensive and detailed understanding about the control of RWIs.

RWIs are caused by microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, viruses or protozoa. They are spread by swallowing, breathing or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, waterparks, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans. RWIs can also be caused by organisms that find their way into the water from the environment—from the air, soil, water, and animals or other users. RWIs can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. Diarrhea is the most common RWI and is often caused by pathogens like Cryptosporidium, Norovirus, Shigella, Escherichia coli 0157:H7 and Giardia. Children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs.

"It is hard to get excited about rashes, diarrhea and pneumonia. However, it is exciting when the field's leading microbiologist, Roy Vore, Ph.D., composes a masterpiece to help us minimize those maladies," said Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO of the NSPF.

In the past two decades, the CDC reports that there has been a substantial increase in the number of RWI outbreaks associated with swimming. Crypto, which can stay alive for days even in well-maintained pools, has become the leading cause of swimming-pool-related outbreaks of diarrheal illness. From 2004 to 2008, reported Crypto cases increased more than 200 percent.

"The online course provides convenient training with a dynamic learning experience that includes narration, images, video and interactive activities, and a copy of the Recreational Water Illnesses handbook," said Alex Antoniou, Ph.D., director of Educational Programs at the NSPF.

The course costs $75 per student. Registrants have access to the online training for six months once purchased, and can retain the book as a long-term reference.

"Our field is built on science. The better we understand it, the better we can prevent disease outbreaks," Vore said. "This material is quite advanced compared to any other topic in our industry. We have set a new standard for comparison, and simultaneously delivered a badly needed tool."

The course applies the principles of risk management to the control of RWIs, taking participants through the basic steps of identifying health threats, unique features to those threats, understanding the possible consequences, identifying ways to reduce risks, and prioritizing risk reduction. The course and handbook include peer-reviewed scientific articles, and recognized references, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The following topics are examined:

  • Risk management and how it applies to RWIs
  • Microbes and diseases
  • Recreational Water Illnesses overview
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses caused by microorganisms; how outbreaks occur
  • Increased-risk facilities
  • Dermal RWIs, infectious and non-infectious
  • Distinguishing chemical and bacterial rashes
  • Respiratory RWIs, infectious and non-infectious
  • Other microorganisms and diseases in aquatic settings
  • Methods for routine control of RWIs
  • Methods for remedial control of RWIs

The NSPF, an Authorized Provider for the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) is authorized to offer IACET CEUs for the Recreational Water Illnesses online training course. Students who successfully complete the course can submit for IACET credits by contacting NSPF.

Learn more about the course and handbook at

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