CDC Warns About Illness Outbreaks Lurking in Pools and Hot Tubs

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eHealth_June 27 2015_news_pool illness outbreaksA new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that swimming in public pools, soaking in hot tubs, and going into the water at beaches comes with increased health risks.

The report, released Thursday, indicates that between 2011 and 2012 there were 90 illness outbreaks linked to recreational water use across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. These outbreaks affected 1,788 people, caused approximately 95 hospitalizations, and even one death.  In cases where illnesses came as a result of untreated recreational water (i.e. swimming in lakes and oceans), 23% were caused by E. coli bacteria.

Out of the 90 outbreaks, 77% were caused by recreational water that has been treated (i.e. in pools and hot tubs). More than half (52%) of the cases relating to treated recreational water were the result of cryptosporidium, a parasite found in fecal matter that can survive for more than a week in chlorinated water.

According to the CDC, cryptosporidium-related outbreaks have significantly increased since the first outbreak was detected back in 1988. Experts are advising that swimmers take extra measures to prevent water-incurred illnesses, such as refraining from urinating or defecating in swimming water, paying attention to warning signs about water quality and avoiding bodies of water that haven’t been cleared for safe swimming.

The CDC is also advising that water venues install further disinfection methods, like ultraviolet light that can kill the cryptosporidium parasite.

Sources for Today’s article:
Hlavsa, M.C., et al., “Outbreaks of Illness Associated with Recreational Water – United States, 2011-2012,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, June 26, 2015; http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6424a4.htm?s_cid=mm6424a4_w#Fig2.
Kraft, A., “Swimming pool, hot tub water contamination increasing in the U.S.,” CBS News web site, June 25, 2015; http://www.cbsnews.com/news/swimming-pool-hot-tub-water-contamination-illness-increasing/.

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