Invisible Dangers in the Water: 5 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick at the Beach

Sharks aren't the only threats you have to keep away from in the water.

August 6, 2014, 11:19 AM

— -- intro: Sharks aren’t the only danger lurking at the beaches this summer. From urban runoff and fecal matter to viruses that can be spread through the water, people can become seriously ill from a simple dip in an ocean or lake.

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“When you swim in contaminated water, there is a grim inventory of diseases that can be associated with that, from stomach flu, to pink eye, to ear infection, to eye infection, to diarrhea, to even respiratory and neurological disorders,” Steve Fleischli, Director of the Water Program for Natural Resources Defense Council, told ABC News’ “20/20.”

Each year, NRDC uses the government’s data to come up with a list of the nation’s most bacteria-laden waters.

Some of the beaches featured on this year’s list included Cockle Cove Creek in Chatham, Massachusetts, Beachwood, New Jersey and the Malibu pier in California.

While the nation’s beaches are usually clean, Fleischli shared some of his advice to stay safe in the water. “A day at the beach should never lead to a night at the hospital,” said Fleischli.

Check out Fleischli’s tips below:

quicklist:1title:1. Wait at least three days after a heavy storm to go into the water. Runoff causes increased bacteria levels.

quicklist:2title:2. Don’t dunk your head into the water.

quicklist:3title:3. Avoid getting water in your mouth or nose.

quicklist:4title:4. Stay out of the water when you have open cuts.

quicklist:5title:5. Don’t go in the water when you’re sick. You can easily infect others.

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