May 10, 2019

Dear SCPS Families,

Summer is almost here, and families are already planning many fun water related activities. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Seminole County and Seminole County Public Schools would like to remind everyone to be safe this Summer while participating in recreational water activities. Everyone plays a role in preventing illnesses caused by germs in the water, and injuries, such as drowning.

One illness of concern is caused by the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri which is found in fresh water such as lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, and hot springs. It also can be present in poorly maintained swimming pools and hot tubs. Although uncommon, the infection it causes called Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis, (PAM) is almost always fatal. The infection occurs when water containing the ameba enters the nose and then invades the brain. The amoeba is not found in salt water (ocean or gulf).

Symptoms of PAM include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff or painful neck occurring within 1 to 14 days from the water activity. Tragically, almost all cases are fatal, but survival may be improved with early recognition and early medical treatment.

The best way to avoid infection is to avoid activities in untreated fresh water. Keeping your head out of the water, holding your nose shut or using nose clips when engaging in recreational freshwater activities may also decrease your chances of acquiring this infection. Please see DOH website and Centers for Disease Control website for more information. To learn more about amoeba from experts visit the Jordan Smelski Foundation website.

Other recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs that are spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs/spas, water playgrounds, lakes, rivers, or oceans. RWIs are caused by a wide variety of infections, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. It’s important to keep germs, urine, feces, sweat, and dirt out of the water we share and swim in.

Remember to stay out of the water if you have diarrhea, shower before you get in the water and don’t swallow the water in order to prevent recreational water illnesses.

About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Families can take the following steps to help prevent drowning and other water related injuries: Learn how to swim, teach children how to swim, use life jackets, provide continuous supervision of swimmers, prevent unsupervised access to pools, and learn CPR.

We want to ensure all our families and students enjoy a safe and healthy summer!

Is your student in need of Volunteer Hours?

If so, the Central Florida Zoo is looking for families in our community to come out and join them for one of two events; an invasive plant removal and a beach cleanup. These events will be happening on different Saturdays through June. This is a family volunteer event, parents are asked to attend and for all participants to be 8 years or older. 

The projects are funded by a grant from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to help accredited organizations encourage communities to get involved with local conservation efforts.

Invasive Species Cleanup
Saturday, May 18
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Invasive plant species can harm the environment, impacting native ecosystems, degrading water quality, and more. Join the cleanup to remove invasive plant species from Zoo property.

Beach Cleanup at Bethune Beach—New Smyrna
Saturday, June 8
7:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Join the effort to clean up the coast, removing trash before it reaches the ocean.

Each family will need to complete a registration form for the event they plan to attend. These can be found on the Central Florida Zoo website.