CDC issues warning about disease outbreaks linked to hotel pools, hot tubs

Local News

The Centers for Disease Control reported that one in three swimming-related disease outbreaks occur at hotels.

The new report issues a warning about waterborne disease outbreaks linked to hotel pools or hot tubs.

According to the report, cryptosporidium, pseudomonas, and legionella are the most common causes of these outbreaks.

“Swallowing just a mouthful of water with cryptospordium in it can make otherwise healthy kids and adults sick for weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting,” said Michele Hlavsa, R.N., M.P.H., chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “Chlorine cannot kill crypto quickly. We need to keep it out of the water in the first place. Don’t go into the water, and don’t let your kids go into the water, if sick with diarrhea.”

The CDC reports that during 2000-2014, of the 493 outbreaks reported, there were at least 27,219 illnesses and eight deaths.

The Knox County Health Department says there are more than 500 public pools that are inspected monthly in Knox County.  Those inspections include looking for safety concerns and water quality.

“We also encourage operators to check the water three times a day to get those levels, because they can change,” said Allison Rosenberg, environmental specialist with the Knox County Health Department.

Rosenberg reminds the public that if the water in the pool does not look right, it probably is not right.

“If you can’t see the bottom of the pool don’t get in the pool and if you don’t see any water moving, the pump and filter probably isn’t working,” said Rosenberg.

She said the state requires pools with permits to display their inspection certificate.

Dr. Lori Patterson with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital said the risk of coming in contact with these bacteria and parasite is always there. She said to avoid drinking any kind of pool water, wash your hands after using the bathroom and if you or your kids have any symptoms of diarrhea, stay out of the pool for at least two weeks.

“Even with the most meticulously maintained facility, whether it’s a pool, hot tub or water park or even a fountain. Any of those can be contaminated,” said Dr. Patterson.

The CDC recommends the following steps to protect your family:

  • Don’t swim or let your kids swim if sick with diarrhea. If crypto is the cause of the diarrhea, wait until two weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.
  • Check the pools, hot tubs and water playground inspection scores.
  • Before getting in the water, use a test strip from your local retailer or pool supply store to check if the water’s pH and bromine or free chlorine level are correct.
  • Don’t swallow the water.
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks hourly, and change diapers in a diaper-changing area and away from the water.

To report problems with a pool in Knox County call the Health Department at (865) 215-5200. 

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