CDC Suggests Staying Out Of Hotel Pools When You Have Diarrhea

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 18, 2018

"We often underestimate what it takes to properly run a pool or hot tub to maintain a chlorine level where it needs to be", said study lead author Michele Hlavsa, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthy Swimming Program. Parents should caution children not to drink pool or hot tub water and can also check a pool's inspection scores, which are supposed to be posted online or near the swimming pool facility.

That's why the CDC recommends that public pools - including hotel pools and water parks - be run by people trained to keep the water free from contamination, she said. The number of respiratory disease outbreaks caused by Legionella increased over time and skin infection outbreaks caused by Pseudomonas decreased over time. The outbreaks caused 27,219 illnesses and eight deaths, the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality report stated. Diarrheal disease outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium leveled off during 2008 through 2014. Though chlorine can kill Cryptosporidium, both Pseudomonas and Legionella can survive disinfectants in slimy areas (called biofilm) of hot tubs, pools, and water playgrounds, the CDC said.

More than 27,000 illnesses were caused by 493 outbreaks with exposure to treated recreational water between 2000 and 2014 in the United States. It's typically spread when a person swims while they have diarrhea, putting others at risk of swallowing contaminated water. Legionella can lead to severe pneumonia and flu-like symptoms, while Pseudomonas can result in "hot tub rash" and swimmers' ear, the CDC said.

The bacteria Legionella and Pseudomonas are the next most leading causes of these outbreaks, with 16 percent of outbreaks caused by Legionella and 13 percent caused by Pseudomonas. It is harder for disinfectants to kill these bacteria when they are protected by biofilm. Maintaining a safe and clean pool by using the right amount of chemicals is a priority.

Those most susceptible to Legionella include people aged 50 or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease and those with weakened immune systems.

The most important way to prevent these outbreaks is to educate swimmers. Because of this, the CDC warns individuals to not swim or let your children swim if sick with diarrhea.

Take kids for bathroom breaks. If Crypto is the cause of the diarrhea, wait until 2 weeks after diarrhea has stopped to go swimming.

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