Wild swimmers are getting sick from sewage, campaigners say

by | Nov 23, 2022 | Science

Wild swimmers are increasingly getting sick from sewage pumped into rivers and seas, according to an environmental charity.Photographer Alexander Ward had no idea he was putting himself at risk when he entered the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire last September.He was taking photos of wild swimmers for a project and didn’t realise he had a cut on his leg.After developing flu symptoms, the 38-year-old, from Tattingstone, Suffolk, phoned NHS 111, who told him to go to hospital urgently.Doctors said he had suspected leptospirosis, also called Weil’s disease. They put him in isolation and gave him antibiotics for two days.”It was quite scary and since then I have never gone into fresh water again,” he said.”I only go in salt water now and it tends to be at local spots where I know they are not directly close to sewage outlets.”I’m really conscious of that.”The charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) received 720 sickness reports over the last year, submitted via its Safer Seas & Rivers Service app, which alerts swimmers when water companies release sewage.That was an increase compared to the previous year when 286 people reported falling ill after entering the water, and the same time period in 2019-2020 when there were 124 sickness reports.The charity said the number of app users had increased during that period, so it was not an exact comparison, but urgent ac …

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