If you’re a parent, you know that when on vacation or attending sporting tournaments a hotel or resort with a pool is a must in order to keep your kids entertained. Travelling with a hockey team of 17 eight to nine year olds, the hotel pool was the best way to keep the boys contained and entertained. As a hockey mom, we quickly decided that the fathers should be left to deal with the splashing, yelling and squealing and we retreated to enjoy a glass of wine and conversation that did not include the words puck, stick, skates, goal or jock….
Summer of course signifies pool openings. If you have a backyard pool similar to hotel pools, you know it’s a great way to entertain kids and if you’re like me, the idea of “chlorinating them” before bed to remove the dirt, grime, germs and stink of the day! While pools and hot tubs are great entertainment devices, if not maintained properly they can be a source, a cesspool if you will of infectious pathogens that can quickly ruin your summer fun. If you don’t want to believe me, check out the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report where the CDC reports that nearly one-third of disease outbreaks caused by chlorinated or treated water can be linked to hotel pools and hot tubs. I’ve never been one to use a public hot tub, but you can be assured I will not likely set foot in one again and will definitely reconsider my use of pools (at the very least, my head will be kept above water!
According to the CDC between 2000 and 2014 there were 493 outbreaks in the USA associated to recreational water that caused a total of >27,000 illnesses and 8 deaths. Of the 493 outbreaks, 158 of the outbreaks were directly linked to hotels, motels, lodges and inns. The most common illness contracted was folliculitis caused by Pseudomonas (aka hot tub rash) and the reason I avoid public hot tubs. Legionella (causes severe pneumonia) was the second most common pathogen identified in the water followed by Cryptosporidium (a parasite that causes GI illness and diarrhea). Of interest, 22 outbreaks were associated with chemical exposure due to excess chlorine, disinfection by-products or altered pool chemistry showing even with pools the use of chemicals properly needs to be considered or you can easily amass >1000 cases of illness associated with chemicals.
With June around the corner you may also want to know that the highest number of outbreaks occurred during June to August. It shouldn’t be surprising – it ties in to the warmer months in many parts of the US and school break and summer vacations!
Stay safe this summer and perhaps consider keep you head above the water!