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CDC: How To Avoid Getting Sick From A Hotel Swimming Pool

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Chilean model Kika Silva swims at the pool of O’Higgins Hotel in Viña del Mar, Chile. (Photo by Marcelo Benitez/Latincontent/Getty Images)

Don’t swim with diarrhea. That seems like a pretty straightforward recommendation whether you are the one spreading diarrhea or the one receiving it in a pool. That’s also one of the recommendations accompanying a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). So, if your plan this weekend is to swim with diarrhea, don’t.

Why is the CDC telling you not to swim with diarrhea (besides the fact that you shouldn’t)? Well, the CDC report found that from 2000 to 2014, in 46 states and Puerto Rico, there were 493 reported infectious disease outbreaks from "treated recreational water" that ended up affecting at least 27,219 people and resulted in eight deaths. Recreational water is not something you drink with marijuana but instead is a human-made body of water in which you can play, such as a swimming pool or a hot tub. For 363 of these outbreaks, public health officials figured out the offending microbe. Over half the time (58%) Cryptosporidium, which often results in diarrhea, was the culprit. The next most common baddie was Legionella (16%). Cryptosporidium outbreaks frequently were larger, affecting more people, as 89% of infected cases were caused by Cryptosporidium. Almost a third (32%) of all outbreaks occurred in hotels, which also included motels, lodges, and inns. 

The hand rails can be a sign of how clean the pool may be. Slimy, dirty, or very rusty handrails can be a bad sign. (Photo: Shutterstock)

So how do you prevent yourself from getting sick in a hotel swimming pool or hot tub, besides avoiding people who are leaving diarrhea trails (as opposed to chemtrails)? Here are some suggestions:

  • Avoid any water that is discolored. You are not a marshmallow so you should not be floating in anything that resembles milk chocolate. Green water is not good either, unless you are drinking a kale smoothie. And we’re not even going to talk about swimming in red water.
  • Avoid any water that is cloudy and not clear. You should be able to see the bottom of the pool or the hot tub. When they talk about storing things in the cloud, they are not talking about swimming pools or Jacuzzis.
  • Beware of slimy. Slimy is not good when it comes to people and recreational water.
  • Look for signs that the water is circulating properly. The pool or hot tub should have a filter with strong jet streams that serve as signs that the filter is working. Make sure that the filter is not blocked or obstructed by filth, vegetation, objects, or your butt.
  • Avoid swallowing the water. If you are thirsty, go to the water fountain or buy a drink instead.
  • Check the inspection code. A pool or hot tub should have a clearly displayed inspection result. Make sure that the inspection is up-to-date. The 80’s may have had good music but are not good years for the latest pool inspection.
  • Make sure that someone is regularly checking and testing the water. Regularly means at least once a day.
  • Watch out for contaminators. A hippopotamus in the water is a bad sign. The same is true with other animals, who don’t hold their pee or poop. This applies to many little kids as well. People who seem sick or are actively peeing and pooping in the pool are bad signs too. (Passively peeing and pooping in the pool are not good either.)
  • Search for the showers. If no showers are available, then obviously people are not showering before they enter the pool or hot tub. Therefore, you are basically swimming in their bath tub.
  • Beware of strong smells. A strong "chlorine" smell may actually mean that there is not enough chlorine in the pool since such a smell comes from chloramines, which result from chlorine reacting with perspiration, body oil, and urine.
  • Look out for things that do not belong in the pool. This list is very long and includes poop, insects, plants, oatmeal, urine, and Deadpool.
  • Carry a test kit with you. You could always test the water yourself as long as you purchase a reliable (and appropriately tested) water testing kit.

Also, remember, looks aren’t everything. Just because a pool seems fancy doesn’t necessarily mean that it is clean. But no need to be paranoid. As long as you take the precautions above, you don’t have to have an excessive fear-a-diarrhea.

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Chilean model Kika Silva swims at the pool of O’Higgins Hotel in Viña del Mar, Chile. (Photo by Marcelo Benitez/Latincontent/Getty Images)

Don’t swim with diarrhea. That seems like a pretty straightforward recommendation whether you are the one spreading diarrhea or the one receiving it in a pool. That’s also one of the recommendations accompanying a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). So, if your plan this weekend is to swim with diarrhea, don’t.

Why is the CDC telling you not to swim with diarrhea (besides the fact that you shouldn’t)? Well, the CDC report found that from 2000 to 2014, in 46 states and Puerto Rico, there were 493 reported infectious disease outbreaks from “treated recreational water” that ended up affecting at least 27,219 people and resulted in eight deaths. Recreational water is not something you drink with marijuana but instead is a human-made body of water in which you can play, such as a swimming pool or a hot tub. For 363 of these outbreaks, public health officials figured out the offending microbe. Over half the time (58%) Cryptosporidium, which often results in diarrhea, was the culprit. The next most common baddie was Legionella (16%). Cryptosporidium outbreaks frequently were larger, affecting more people, as 89% of infected cases were caused by Cryptosporidium. Almost a third (32%) of all outbreaks occurred in hotels, which also included motels, lodges, and inns. 

The hand rails can be a sign of how clean the pool may be. Slimy, dirty, or very rusty handrails can be a bad sign. (Photo: Shutterstock)

So how do you prevent yourself from getting sick in a hotel swimming pool or hot tub, besides avoiding people who are leaving diarrhea trails (as opposed to chemtrails)? Here are some suggestions:

  • Avoid any water that is discolored. You are not a marshmallow so you should not be floating in anything that resembles milk chocolate. Green water is not good either, unless you are drinking a kale smoothie. And we’re not even going to talk about swimming in red water.
  • Avoid any water that is cloudy and not clear. You should be able to see the bottom of the pool or the hot tub. When they talk about storing things in the cloud, they are not talking about swimming pools or Jacuzzis.
  • Beware of slimy. Slimy is not good when it comes to people and recreational water.
  • Look for signs that the water is circulating properly. The pool or hot tub should have a filter with strong jet streams that serve as signs that the filter is working. Make sure that the filter is not blocked or obstructed by filth, vegetation, objects, or your butt.
  • Avoid swallowing the water. If you are thirsty, go to the water fountain or buy a drink instead.
  • Check the inspection code. A pool or hot tub should have a clearly displayed inspection result. Make sure that the inspection is up-to-date. The 80’s may have had good music but are not good years for the latest pool inspection.
  • Make sure that someone is regularly checking and testing the water. Regularly means at least once a day.
  • Watch out for contaminators. A hippopotamus in the water is a bad sign. The same is true with other animals, who don’t hold their pee or poop. This applies to many little kids as well. People who seem sick or are actively peeing and pooping in the pool are bad signs too. (Passively peeing and pooping in the pool are not good either.)
  • Search for the showers. If no showers are available, then obviously people are not showering before they enter the pool or hot tub. Therefore, you are basically swimming in their bath tub.
  • Beware of strong smells. A strong “chlorine” smell may actually mean that there is not enough chlorine in the pool since such a smell comes from chloramines, which result from chlorine reacting with perspiration, body oil, and urine.
  • Look out for things that do not belong in the pool. This list is very long and includes poop, insects, plants, oatmeal, urine, and Deadpool.
  • Carry a test kit with you. You could always test the water yourself as long as you purchase a reliable (and appropriately tested) water testing kit.

Also, remember, looks aren’t everything. Just because a pool seems fancy doesn’t necessarily mean that it is clean. But no need to be paranoid. As long as you take the precautions above, you don’t have to have an excessive fear-a-diarrhea.

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