With the summer season now officially in full swing, people will be spending countless hours at beaches, pools, and other manmade watering holes. Relaxing in the water isn’t just a favorite pastime for the kiddos, and grownups suiting up have just as much to look forward to as the youngins’.
Well, for the most part. Here to dampen your watery spirits is a fresh batch of info from the Centers for Disease Control. It may not be something you want to hear but it’s definitely something you need to know.
For all you vacationers out here who love to cannonball at hotel pools or lounge in those communal hot tubs, you’re also sharing that water with microscopic partygoers. The CDC conducted a fourteen-year investigation into disease outbreaks and learned nearly a third were connected to hotel pools and hot tubs.
Ew. According to the agency’s report, 27,000 illnesses were due to recreational water use. Offenders included Cryptosporidium, Legionella, and Pseudomonas. Trust us, you don’t want any of these guys crashing the party.
Crypto – if you remember – is a parasite that causes gastrointestinal upset. Spread through diarrhea and swallowing contaminated water, it shows up in the body as cramping, nausea, vomiting, and more diarrhea. One of the worst parts? It survives chlorine treatments!
Responsible for roughly 90% of the outbreaks in this category, prevention is largely dependent on people not getting into the water if they’ve suffered from diarrhea. That goes for adults, kids, and diaper-wearers.
Legionella leads to the nightmare known as Legionnaire’s disease, and in these CDC cases, was spread through hot tub jets. Inhalation of the bacteria from the watery spray droplets led to illness. What’s alarming is that out of the eight deaths reported during this time period, six were from Legionnaire’s.
Symptoms include chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, or diarrhea, and they may not start showing up for 10-14 days. Legionella can also cause Pontiac fever, and can usually be killed through proper disinfecting but can survive in biofilm, growing and multiplying.
When Pseudomonas shows up, it can also survive for a time in treated water as biofilm on multiple surfaces. It’s responsible for a variety of illnesses including eye infections, swimmer’s ear, skin infections, and respiratory and gastro ailments.
To help control its spread, regular sanitization of pools and hot tubs is needed, and it’s also recommended that people shower before and after getting in the water.
One of the things the CDC noted was that the outbreaks tended to spike during the summer months: June, July, and August. For all infections, those who are at increased risk are children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with suppressed immune systems.
What should you do? You can choose to avoid these waters altogether, don’t swallow the water, and don’t allow anyone in your family who’s sick to get in. The CDC also advises to check out the inspection scores for the facility when it comes to pool and hot tub safety. While you’re at it, check out the crowd and use wise judgement.
What do you think of these high rates at hotel facilities? Have you ever contracted an illness from recreational water? Was it an infection from a hotel?