CBS NEWS With summer almost upon us, health officials are warning Americans to take precautions against unpleasant germs that might lurk in pools. Outbreaks of waterborne diseases of recreational water treated as pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds have been common in recent years, and it turns out that hotel pools are among the main culprits.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Prevention (CDC) finds that one third of outbreaks over a period of 14 years occurred in hotel pools.
The report, published in the CDC's Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, badyzed data from 2000 to 2014 and found that 493 outbreaks were reported, resulting in at least 27,219 illnesses and eight deaths.
Cryptosporidium, also known as "Crypto", a parasite strong enough to survive even in properly maintained pools, was the most common cause of disease. Crypto was responsible for 58 percent of outbreaks and 89 percent of all diseases, where a germ related to pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds was identified.
Crypto spreads in the pool water when someone who is sick with the parasite goes swimming and has diarrhea in the water and then others swallow the contaminated water. Parents of young children play a key role in the prevention of Crypto outbreaks.
"Swallowing just a sip of water with Crypto can make healthy children and adults sick for weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting." Michele Hlavsa, director of the Healthy Swimming Program at the CDC, said in a statement. "Chlorine can not kill Crypto quickly, first we have to keep it out of the water, do not enter the water, and do not allow your children to enter the water, if they are sick with diarrhea."
Other causes of waterborne diseases they include the Legionella bacteria, the source of Legionnaires' disease, and Pseudomonas. Legionella can cause severe pneumonia and flu-like symptoms and accounts for 16 percent of outbreaks during the study period. Pseudomonas can cause a skin rash and an ear infection and make up 13 percent of outbreaks.
Both bacteria can survive disinfectants in viscous areas called biofilm. It is more difficult to kill Legionella and Pseudomonas when they are protected by biofilm, so pool operators must maintain proper cleaning practices and levels of disinfectant to prevent these bacteria from growing and causing illness in swimmers.
Some people are more likely to get Legionella, including adults 50 years old or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease, and people with a weakened immune system. People who belong to these categories should consult their doctor immediately if they develop symptoms and may have been exposed to Legionella in a Jacuzzi or pool.
To help keep you safe in the pool, the CDC recommends:
Do not swim or let your children swim if they are sick with diarrhea. If Crypto is the cause of diarrhea, wait until 2 weeks after the diarrhea stops to go swimming.
Do not swallow water from the pool.
Take the children to the bathroom every hour and change the diapers in a diaper changing area. away from the water
Before swimming, check the installation inspection score.
Use a test strip from your local retail store or pool to check if the pH and bromine in the water or the free chlorine level are correct before entering the water.