Sounds like some pretty sound advice coming from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) as late, considering a recent U.S. government report revealed close to one-third of all disease outbreaks across America within the 2000 to 2014 time period are associated to treated or chlorinated water within hot tubs and pools. During the 15-year time frame, close to 500 outbreaks were connected with treated recreational water across 46 states and Puerto Rico.
According to CNN, the outbreaks caused approximately 27,200 to become sick, with eight fatalities.
What were behind these outbreaks? Bacteria and parasites. In fact, about 58% of these outbreaks were confirmed to be caused by Cryptosporidium, a parasite commonly referred to as Crypto, that survives in the most well-maintained pools and can create diarrhea and gastrointestinal illness within individuals.
A minimum of six to eight fatalities and 16% of the sicknesses were linked to Legionella, a type of bacteria that is connected to severe pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease, as well as a milder flu-like condition known as the Pontiac fever. Meanwhile, Pseudomonas, a type of bacteria that results in an illness referred to as ‘hot tub rash’ (folliculitis) and ‘swimmer’s ear’ (otitis externa) caused illnesses at a 13% rate.
Both Pseudomonas and Legionella can survive disinfectants.
So, with summer right around the corner, what’s CDC’s best advice?
Michele Hlavsa, CDC’s chief of the Healthy Swimming Program laid it out very clear: no matter who you are or where you are, simply do not drink the water you are swimming in.
She noted that while this can protect from some germs, it might not protect from all germs that linger within pools and hot tubs. Which is why she added that those swimming in recreational waters should review inspection scores. Much like restaurants, pools have inspection scores that should be posted near the facility or online.
You can even take the idea to the next level and buy some test strips of your own, which can be purchased at any pool supply company or big box store.
With about 56% of all outbreaks occurring during the summer months of June to August, taking some extra precaution will be worth the hassle of chancing a sickness during a time of year that is all about fun in the sun.