Summer is quickly coming, which means thousands will flock to pools and spas across the country. Unfortunately, many people who swim, soak, and play in these venues, could end up sick.
Although many people are "put off" by one more health warning, the risks of these infections are real, and public education is critical to prevention.
The CDC is working hard to educate the public about the increasing risks of recreational water illnesses, but the media has been slow to report their warnings. Read Recreational Water Illness Prevention and Swimming Pool Operation: Moving Beyond the Basicis by Dr. Michael Beach of the CDC healthy swimming program.
I have been trying to educate people about the risks of all recreational water illnesses (RWIs), especially hot tub infections ever since I contracted Legionnaires disease from a poorly maintained hot tub at a very nice California coastal resort. After I became ill and started researching the problem in our country, I realized there is a very low level of awareness by the general public. As a survivor of this horrible disease, and a registered nurse, I feel an obligation to share what I learned with others. I wish someone would have told me about the risk of hot tubs before I went for my simple little soak.
But pools can be sources of RWIs as well. Cryptosporidium outbreaks are on the rise in our country. This parasite is resistant to chlorine and spread when people with the illness go swimming. Last year, Utah alone had 1900 cases. If you or your children have diarrhea - DON"T GET IN THE POOL!
The following story outlines the challenges and pitfalls that can occur in pool and spa maintenance, public education, and public health department management of RWIs.
Consumers need to educate themselves about all RWIs to keep their families and others safe this swimming season. The CDC recommends testing the chlorine and pH yourself to help REDUCE (you cannot eliminate) your risk.
See the CDC's healthy swimming website for more information