Diving into cool water or soaking in a hot jacuzzi may be your ideal method of unwinding, but beware: There’s deadly bacteria lurking below the surface, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Their results found that 493 disease outbreaks originated from treated recreational water in the United States between 2000 and 2014—and hotel pools and hot tubs are most-commonly responsible (32 percent of the 27,219 illnesses and eight deaths, to be exact). The spread of illness is even happening in pools that are diligently cleaned.
The spread of illness is even happening in pools that are diligently cleaned.
Out of all those outbreaks, the report found 94 percent were pathogen-related and the other 6 percent were chemical-related. The pathogen that caused the most issues? Cryptosporidium, a parasite that wreaks havoc on the digestive system and enters the body when you swallow water that has been contaminated by someone who has diarrhea (gross). Next up was Legionella, which was responsible for six of the reported eight deaths because it leads to Legionnaires’ disease—a severe case of pneumonia—which can be contracted simply by inhaling infected microscopic water droplets, according to the Mayo Clinic. Then there’s also Pseudomonas, a bacteria that causes swimmer’s ear or “hot tub rash.”
Though the outbreaks happened most often in the summer months, they occurred year-round (since people retreated to indoor pools in winter). Sadly, even if the hotels do an outstanding job of keeping up the pool area, the bacteria is just really hard to kill. Even chlorine isn’t a match for Cryptosporidium, which has an incredibly high tolerance that allows it to survive proper maintenance routines for long periods of time. So, how are you supposed to stay safe?
In the past, the CDC has said to avoid swallowing any sort of recreational water, avoid swimming if you have diarrhea or have an open wound, keep your ears dry after swimming, and shower before and after going for a dip. By taking as many precautions as you can, you’ll be able to relax a little more the next time you decide to take a dip.
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