CDC warns about parasite in hotel pools

Swimming pool steps Shutterstock ID 45581332 Purchase Order

Swimming pool steps Shutterstock ID 45581332 Purchase Order

Nearly half of the hotel outbreaks (41%) were associated with hot tubs and or spas.

Pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds may be synonymous with summertime fun, but they also can be breeding grounds for risky germs that could make you violently ill. The leading pathogens in these reported cases were Cryptosporidium, Legionella, and Pseudomonas.

Cryptosporidium (also known as "Crypto"), Pseudomonas, and Legionella caused most of the outbreaks in swimming venues in the United States during this time period.

The CDC report found 493 outbreaks were linked to recreational water between 2010 and 2014 in 46 states and Puerto Rico.

The CDC said swimmers can take serval steps to protect themselves, including avoiding pools if suffering from diarrhea, avoiding swallowing water, and checking a hotel or water park's most recent inspection scores. Though chlorine can kill Cryptosporidium, both Pseudomonas and Legionella can survive disinfectants in slimy areas (called biofilm) of hot tubs, pools, and water playgrounds, the CDC said.

These bacteria can enter the body through the skin, eyes or nose, Hlavsa explained. Pseudomonas can cause hot tub rash and swimmer's ear.

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The bacteria Legionella and Pseudomonas are the next most leading causes of these outbreaks, with 16 percent of outbreaks caused by Legionella and 13 percent caused by Pseudomonas.

Some people are more likely to get sick from Legionella, including people 50 years or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease, and people with a weakened immune system.

Dr. Marc Siegel is a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

They have to be carefully cleaned and chlorinated, filters have to be changed regularly and the water has to be circulating, he said. If it gets into contact with a swimmer, or if a swimmer were to digest some of the contaminated water, then the parasite will keep spreading. Because of this, the CDC warns individuals to not swim or let your children swim if sick with diarrhea. The CDC recommends that swimmers and kids with diarrhea should stay out of public pools, such as hotels, for at least two weeks. And change diapers in a changing area away from the water.

"Multiple factors contribute to Legionella and Pseudomonas growth in hot tubs/spas, including inadequate disinfectant concentration; warm (77°F-108°F [25°C-42°C]) water temperatures (which facilitate pathogen amplification and make it hard to maintain adequate disinfectant concentration); water aeration (which depletes halogens); and the presence of biofilm on wet venue surfaces, scale, and sediment", the authors wrote.

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week begins May 21.

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