Some doctors in Southwest Missouri are warning Four State residents to think twice before they take a cool, summer's dip in a stream. High levels of E. coli have shown up in some rivers and streams in Jasper County.
Health officials say their most recent test of E. coli in area streams is meant to be more of an indicator than flag of danger.
"Actually, it's very rare to get disease from swimming," says Dr. Anthony Zeimet of Freeman Health System.
But doctors say swimmers could still feel ill.
"Some people could have mild diarrheal illness after swimming and it'll just be a mild enough illness that they don't report it," says Tony Moehr of the Jasper County Health Department.
Water bacteria is measured in colony-forming unit, or CFU.
When the CFU level reaches 235, the government says 7 in 1,000 swimmers have the risk of getting sick from E. coli.
Of the 21 sites tested along rivers and streams in Jasper County last week, ten have E. coli levels greater than 235. One location is more than ten times higher.
"We may have had no rain, but if they had rain up in Barton County, that's going to influence the water that flows into the county from that area," says Moehr.
Doctors say swimmers who fall ill to E. coli oftentimes drink too much of the dangerous water.
"If you have any open sore and it comes into a high inoculum, that's another way that it could potentially cause a problem," says Dr. Zeimet. "A lot of times it would cause local cellulitis, which is infection of the skin."
Children and the elderly are at greater risk for this sickness.
Medical professionals say to be safe and go to a doctor if you have a fever and feel ill after swimming.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas