After COVID vaccinations rolled out, many people started taking long-delayed vacations.
And for a lot of folks, a vacation wouldn’t be complete without lounging around a pool.
But a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that using swimming pools at hotels, resorts, and other public places carries surprising risk.
The study documented hundreds of disease outbreaks in recent years from contaminated pools and hot tubs. They have sickened more than 27,000 people and killed eight, according to the CDC.i
One of the main culprits is the parasite cryptosporidium (crypto for short). It can survive even in well-chlorinated pools.
Crypto is to blame for more than half (58%) of pool-caused illnesses. It often gives swimmers gastrointestinal illness.
The symptoms are sure to wreck any vacation. They include diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, fever, and weight loss.ii
In severe cases, it can even be fatal in people with weakened immune systems.
Treatment usually consists of drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.iii
It is most commonly contracted by accidentally swallowing pool water contaminated with crypto.
Other pathogens that can withstand pool disinfectants are:
- Legionella, which are a group of bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease. It leads to severe pneumonia that can be deadly.
- Pseudomonas, which are strains of bacteria that can cause folliculitis (“hot tub rash”) and otitis externa (“swimmers’ ear”).
Both of these bacteria can enter the body through the skin, eyes, or nose. Those most susceptible to Legionella are people 50 and older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung diseases, and those with weakened immune systems.iv
3 Ways to Protect Yourself from Pool Pathogens
To prevent crypto, the CDC says you should try to avoid getting pool water in your mouth.
Here are other ways to make using public pools safer:
- Check inspection scores. Just like restaurants, public swimming pools are inspected. Many post their scores on a wall near the swimming area. The CDC study found that about 20% of inspections reveal problems.
- Check chlorine levels yourself. Those who maintain pools may not check the water every day. And pool chemistry changes all the time. Even a brief reduction in disinfectant levels can lead to contamination.
You can buy inexpensive pool test strips at a hardware, big box, or pool supply store. The strips turn different colors depending on the level of chlorine or bromine, which are the two most common pool disinfectants. If levels are low, consider staying out of the pool. Or at least try to be extra careful not to swallow any water.v
- Maintain basic hygiene. If you or your child has an open sore or diarrhea, don’t use the pool.
One more thing…
After getting out of the pool, be sure to shower. This will rinse off the chlorine, bromine, and other chemicals that can irritate your skin.
Soaking in the pool is a great way to relax. And swimming is a fantastic form of exercise. By taking a few commonsense precautions, you’ll stay healthy while enjoying your well-deserved post-vaccination vacation.
Editor’s Note: Discover other natural, non-drug methods to stay healthy. Read our monthly journal, Independent Healing. It’s your best source for unbiased, evidence-based medical information. For more information, click HERE.