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A hard-to-kill germ called Cryptosporidium can withstand chlorine disinfectant in swimming pools and is a leading cause of pool-related outbreaks, federal health officials said Thursday
Hotel pools and hot tubs may be an important source of these outbreaks, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One third of outbreaks of illnesses detected in swimming pools between 2000 and 2014 began in hotel pools and hot tubs, the CDC said.
And many of those cases were caused by Cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes diarrhea, as well as bacteria that cause Legionnaire's disease and a second bacterium called Pseudomonas.
Cryptosporidium, or crypto for short, caused 58 percent of the outbreaks in which one germ could be identified and 89 percent of the diseases, the CDC said.
"Most germs die in minutes because of the amount of chlorine CDC recommends and that is required by state and local governments," said Michele Hlavsa, head of the CDC's Swimming Program.
"Crypto can survive seven or more days It takes a lot of chlorine, for a long time, to kill crypto".
And although cryptography is transmitted by a diarrheal incident, and yes, that's what you think it is, it can be hard to see that happen. in a pool full of children.
"The diarrhea caused by crypto can be very watery, so it can be quite furtive," Hlavsa said.
Parents should not allow children to enter pools if they have recently had diarrhea. and babies need to look more closely. If there is a diarrheal incident, it is assumed that the pool operator should clean the pool and discharge it with extremely high levels of chlorine or bromine to kill the parasite.
That obviously does not always happen.
The Hlavsa team at CDC went through reports on 493 outbreaks of diseases that could be linked to swimming pools between 2000 and 2014.
They made many people sick: more than 27,000 diseases. Eight people died.
More than half of the cases were caused by crypto, which infects people when they swallow contaminated water from the pool. Another 16 percent was caused by the Legionella bacteria, which is usually inhaled in water spray.
Pseudomonas caused 13 percent of the diseases and also causes folliculitis or rash in the bath tub and otitis externa or "swimmer's ear".
"Hotels were the main scenario, associated with 157 (32 percent) of the 493 outbreaks," the CDC team reported.
Chlorine is very effective at killing germs if it is maintained at the correct levels, and if the pH of the group maintained at the proper level for the disinfectant to work.
In 2013, for example, the CDC said that 20 percent of inspections of hot tubs and public spas showed that they did not have enough disinfectant.
And bacteria can become carpets called biofilms, which then resist the effects of chlorine and other disinfectants. These muddy biofilms usually have to be eliminated.
Hotel pools are probably not very different from any other public group, Hlavsa said.
"We underestimated what is needed to properly operate a group, be it a group of hotels or a group of water parks," he said.
A properly trained operator should be present to ensure that chlorine or bromine concentrations and pH levels are where they should be, and should be alert to poop incidents, even those difficult to see. – so they can clean and disinfect the pool immediately.
Why the shower is so important
It also helps to apply the rules about the shower.
A proper shower can not only remove residual feces that could enter a pool, but it removes oil, sweat and dirt that react with chlorine and make it less effective.
"It uses chlorine that actually kills germs," Hlavsa said.
"The problem with urinating in the pool and the problem of not bathing before entering the pool is that urine and sweat and dirt combine with chlorine in the water."
Urine is not sterile, contrary to popular belief. "Pee can interact with chlorine," Hlavsa said.
In fact, that's what makes people's eyes burn after swimming. It is not chlorine. It is urine.
"It's really, really, very important to bathe and not urinate in the pond," Hlavsa said.
How can people protect themselves?
Hlavsa, who brings her own two young children to pools, recommends chlorine test strips at home.
"You can buy test strips at a hardware store or a large box store," he said. She said that a box of 100 can cost a few dollars. "They have small pads on them." You submerge them in the water and the pads change color at the pH or at the chlorine or bromine levels, "he said.
Drinking water is chlorinated, but not at the levels necessary for the pools to be safe. must have 1 part per million chlorine, while a whirlpool must have 3 parts per million.