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Fountain Frolicking Can Be Fun, but Dangerous

continued...

That's still better than what happened in the only other case like this, when an outbreak previously occurred at an ornamental fountain of the interactive type at the Minnesota Zoo. The fountain was subsequently fenced in to keep all people away.

At a large commercial water park in Atlanta, where people are obviously welcomed, there are no standing-water kiddie pools, stringent cleanliness procedures are in place, diapered children have to wear plastic swim covers, and caregivers are asked to "encourage" their children not to drink the water, according to the park's safety guidelines.

In public, though, the problem is largely unrecognized. A spokesperson for the National Safety Council tells WebMD they have plenty of suggested guidelines for pool safety, involving physical injury, but nothing about drinking the water, and "they don't have any bulletins on this at all."

Wally James, chairman of the safety committee for the World Waterpark Association, says: "There are no standards, and there's no line of responsibility for water quality control in those things. By and large, if it's a fountain, stay away from it, don't touch it. ... If the water is not being treated and filtered, don't go near it. It's that simple."

James says "efforts to establish standards for decorative fountains and amusement rides that have water associated with them ... they've gotten no where." Efforts to get kids to keep the water out of their mouths are just as much of an upstream battle.

"Ingestion is the key for prevention," James tells WebMD. "But if a kid gets water on their hands, they're going to stick their fingers in their mouth, and [then] you're done. So the bottom line is keep them out of the water ... by and large, if it's a decorative fountain, or a theme-ing kind of attraction, best bet is to stand there and look at it and just stay out of it."

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