If you are going on a vacation, you might want to pack a little more than sunscreen. Perhaps…a water testing kit? That is, if you plan on dipping into your hotel’s pool. A government-issued report stated that between 2000 and 2014, almost one-third of all disease outbreaks (2 or more people) throughout America can be linked to water treated with chlorine. During that time period there were 493 outbreaks that resulted in 272,219 illnesses as well as eight deaths.
What’s Causing These Outbreaks?
The causes out of these outbreaks were parasites and bacteria. Three in particular were the usual suspects and that’s because they are almost impervious to chemicals. 58% of these outbreaks were caused by a parasite known as Cryptosporidium, lovingly known as Crypto. Outbreaks from Crypto see symptoms as GI illnesses and diarrhea.
While Crypto is uncomfortable, six of the eight deaths reported has been caused by the bacteria, Legionella. With 16% of outbreaks reporting Legionella, this bacteria is the precursor to Legionnaires’ Disease.
13% of the reported illnesses were caused by Pseudomonas. This bacteria causes folliculitis (hot tub rash) and swimmer’s ear.
Tips to Stay Safe
It should go without saying, don’t drink the water. Also, be sure to check what the inspection scores for the pool are. Just like businesses that serve food, pools are checked by health inspectors. These inspectors will post their scores online and a lot of times, on site.
Also, there are DIY test kits. They are easy to carry and conspicuous to use. You don’t have to worry about drawing too much attention to yourself because they’re just little test strips. Simply dip one into the water. Based on the color the strip changes into, you can determine the levels of pH and chlorine of the pool. If the levels are unsafe, then don’t go in the water.
Lastly, be courteous of others. Do as you would like to be treated. If you or your child is sick (especially with a condition like diarrhea), do not go in the water. This can cause a contamination that can affect many others.