Report: Hotel pools, hot tubs may be swimming with harmful bacteria

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With vacation season rolling in like the tide, you may already be imagining poolside drinks and backstrokes in your near future. But before you slip on your swimwear and grab your tanning lotion, take note of a new report by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which reveals that parasites and bacteria in hotel pools and hot tubs could be causing multiple illnesses.

Report: Hotel pools & hot tubs can be dangerous

The CDC released the report Thursday. It outlines the ways recreational venues like pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds can be harmful to your health.

The CDC looked at cases of water-related illness in 46 states and Puerto Rico from 2000 to 2014. They found at least 27,219 cases and eight deaths. Among the confirmed 363 outbreaks of infectious illnesses they identified were 212 cases of Cryptosporidium (a gastrointestinal illness), also known as Crypto; 57 instances of Legionella (which causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe pneumonia); and Pontiac fever, an illness with flu-like symptoms), among others.

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Before you cancel your upcoming vacation at the resort, please know that vacation destinations go to great lengths to treat their pools and hot tubs with the appropriate chemicals and adhere to strict maintenance schedules.

Nonetheless, there are some thing you can do to protect yourself. Here a few recommendations from the CDC:

Water safety tips to use at pools, hot tubs & spas

Don’t drink the water: Because it simply hasn’t been processed for human consumption, it’s a really bad idea to gulp down anything from a recreational watering hole. There’s just no telling what you’ll be ingesting.

Check the inspection score: Pools and water parks open to the public all have inspections that are facilitated by the local municipality. If you have concerns, ask to see the latest inspection score. The CDC says that 20% of 13,864 routine inspections of public hot tubs/spas conducted in 16 jurisdictions in 2013 identified improper disinfectant concentrations.

Don’t swim if you have diarrhea: If your kid says he or she isn’t feeling well or shows signs of sickness, it’s best to keep them out of the water. The CDC says it bluntly: “The key message to the public, particularly parents of young bathers, is “Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.’”

If you smell chlorine everywhere, there’s too much: That’s the rule of thumb posited by researchers Brent S. Rushall and Larry Weisenthal to Inform the pool manager about your concerns.


If you happen to have a pool at your home, proper maintenance can save you time and money. Here’s how to treat your pool.

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