Neighbourhood Travel Desk: The CDC sorted through nearly 500 outbreaks linked to pools, spas, and waterparks that made more than 27,200 people sick and killed eight people between 2000 and 2014. Roughly one-third of those outbreaks were traced back to hotels, motels, inns, and lodges, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That means that the managers at vacation spots still have to do better at keeping their aquatic facilities clean. And the public can help by remembering one simple rule, the CDC says: “Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea.”
More than half of the outbreaks linked to hotel pools and spas were confirmed to be infections. Culprits included bacteria like Legionella, which can cause dangerous pneumonia or a less-severe flu-like illness when people inhale contaminated water droplets, and Pseudomonas, which can cause skin rashes and swimmer’s ear when people touch the tainted water. The other major culprit was a parasite called Cryptosporidium, which causes contagious diarrhea when people swallow water that has infected poop in it.
Outbreaks occur when these bugs escape the killing powers of chemical disinfectants. Chlorine and bromine are usually enough to kill Legionella and Pseudomonas, but these bugs can survive in dirty pools by forming a tough layer of gooey sludge known as a biofilm — especially when the disinfectants aren’t strong enough. The hardest to kill, though, is Cryptosporidium. At the concentrations of chlorine the CDC recommends, most bugs die in minutes, but Crypto can survive for more than seven days, the CDC says.