Waterborne Pathogens

Recreational water illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the water. These waterborne pathogens can cause diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, fever, and rashes. People can be exposed to these pathogens if they swallow water when they swim or eat food without washing their hands first.

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) and local health departments sample waterbodies for waterborne pathogens throughout the recreation season (May to October) to keep the public, local health departments, and other stakeholders informed of current conditions. DWQ posts updates on sampling results, possible blooms, and health advisories as soon as the information becomes available.

Call Utah Poison Control Center

Call the Poison Control Center

If you believe you or your pet have been exposed to waterborne pathogens, call, call
(800) 222-1222.

Take Time Before Play Time

It isn’t possible to tell if the water is contaminated by waterborne pathogens just by looking at it. Recreators can protect themselves and their families while enjoying Utah’s waters by following these simple steps:

  1. Check water conditions on DEQ’s Recreational Advisory Map before leaving home.
  2. Follow recommendations on posted health advisories. Avoid areas with a posted advisory if possible.
  3. Don’t swallow water while swimming.
  4. Wash hands with clean water before eating or preparing food.
  5. Don’t go into the water if experiencing diarrhea or vomiting.
  6. Rinse off in clean water after swimming or water-skiing.
  7. Visit the bathroom before going into the water.
  8. Don’t swim after heavy rainstorms.
  9. Don’t swim or play in stormwater detention ponds or irrigation canals.

Learn about Waterborne Pathogens

Got questions? Find out more.

Contact Information

Dr. Hannah Bonner (hbonner@utah.gov)
Recreational Health Advisory Program Coordinator
(385) 258-6057

For questions about advisories or health risks associated with waterborne pathogens, contact your local health department or the Utah Department of Health (801) 538-6191.