Health Department Urges Lake County Residents to Swim Safely

View as a webpage | Translate

LCHD 2017




For Immediate Release
Date: June 15, 2021
Contact: Emily Young
(847) 772-2204


Health Department Urges Lake County Residents to Swim Safely

Lake County, Ill.— Athe weather warms up, many of our residents will be returning to Lake County’s lakes and beachesSwimming and other water-related activities are a great way to exercise and cool off in the summer. However, they are not risk-free. It’s important to protect yourself from illness, prevent the spread of germs, and check to see if conditions are safe for swimming. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people through recreational water. However, it is important to take precautions when visiting public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds, as well as natural bodies of water—like beaches and lakes—to slow the spread of COVID-19 as well.  

Lake County residents should also be aware of recreational water illnesses (RWIs). They are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in, or having contact with contaminated water. Diarrhea is the most common RWI. With swim season underway, residents need to do their part to help prevent recreational water illnesses,” says Alana BartolaiEcological Services Program Coordinator with the Lake County Health Department.   

Here are ways to protect yourself from illness at pools and water parks: 

  • Don’t swim or let your children swim when sick with diarrhea.  
  • Don’t swallow the water.  
  • Check out the pool’s latest inspection report and do your own mini-inspection (check that you can see the pool drain, locate the lifeguard on duty, and locate safety equipment that is available). 
  • Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes. 
  • Check diapers every 30–60 minutes and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area–not waterside–to keep germs away from the water. 
  • Shower before you enter the water.  

Swimmer’s itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, is an RWI that can occur in the summer months in lakes. It appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain parasites that infect some birds and mammals and can be released by infected snails. Swimmer’s itch is not dangerous but can be uncomfortable, and most cases do not require medical attention. To reduce the chances of getting swimmer’s itch, the Health Department recommends drying off with a towel or showering immediately after swimming, swimming away from shore, avoiding areas where snails have accumulated and to avoid feeding birds. To learn more, read the CDC listing of FAQS. 

The Lake County Health Department monitors lake water for E.coli bacteria in over 100 Lake Michigan and inland lake beaches to ensure that the water is acceptable for swimming. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, beach closure information can be found on the Health Department’s Beach Advisory web page, is updated daily by 10:00 a.m.  

“When our water sampling tests indicate a high bacteria count, a swim ban is issued to keep people out of the water until the water quality improves,” said Bartolai. “High bacteria counts may be caused by storm water runoff, sewage overflow, nearby septic failure, or large quantities of droppings from geese or seagulls.”  

Test samples taken from Lake County beaches indicate bacteria levels exceeding water quality standards approximately 10 percent of the time. When bacteria levels are high, the Health Department notifies the beach’s manager and signs are posted indicating a swim ban is in place. Water samples are taken daily until the bacteria levels fall below the standard. 

Follow these tips to avoid hazards when swimming in our lakes this summer: 

  • Before heading to your favorite lake, check if the beach is open on the Health Department website. If a swim ban is in place, do not swim in the lake. 
  • Avoid swimming in lakes after a large rain event, since rainfall can wash pollutants into lakes resulting in elevated bacteria levels. 
  • On Lake Michigan, don’t swim during times of heavy surf (i.e., high waves), which can overpower even the strongest swimmer.   
  • On inland lakes, occasional harmful algae blooms may occur. Avoid areas where the water has a green or blue-green appearance. Report any algae blooms to the Health Department. 

Throughout the summer, the Health Department samples 10 beaches along Lake Michigan four days per week: 

  • North Point Marina Beach, Winthrop Harbor 
  • Illinois Beach State Park North Beach, Zion 
  • Illinois Beach State Park South Beach, Zion 
  • Illinois Beach State Park Resort Beach, Zion 
  • Waukegan North Beach, Waukegan 
  • Waukegan South Beach, Waukegan 
  • Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach, Lake Bluff 
  • Forest Park Beach, Lake Forest 
  • Park Avenue Beach, Highland Park 
  • Rosewood Beach, Highland Park 

The Health Department also samples Lake Bluff Dog Beach once a week.  

For more information on beach monitoring, please call Lake County Health Department’s Environmental Services at: (847) 377-8020. 

# # #

LCHD logo 2017

Lake County Health Department
3010 Grand Avenue
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
(847) 377-8000