Hotel pools and hot tubs may bring health risks

Research we're watching

Published: August, 2018

Image: © nd3000/Getty Images

You may want to take precautions if you're planning on swimming or using a hot tub at your hotel on your next vacation. Data released May 18 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that these attractions are hot spots for waterborne diseases. In fact, one-third of waterborne disease outbreaks between 2000 and 2014 were traced to hotel pools or hot tubs.

The three main culprits causing infections in swimmers and hot tub users are Cryptosporidium, Pseudomonas, and Legionella. More than half of the outbreaks were caused by Cryptosporidium parasites, which are typically spread when someone ingests water contaminated by a sick swimmer with diarrhea. Legionella and Pseudomonas bacteria, which caused 16% and 13% of outbreaks respectively, cause pneumonia, flu-like illness, swimmer's ear, or a rash. Any one of these conditions can quickly drain the fun from any trip.

But waterborne illnesses are avoidable in some instances. Here's how you can protect yourself and others from infection:

  • Stay out of the water if you are sick.

  • Make sure the pool or hot tub you are using is well maintained and has passed appropriate inspections.

  • Avoid swallowing the water whenever possible.

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