Diving into a hotel pool following a long day of travel may look enticing, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warns they are the leading cause for waterborne outbreaks.
Nearly 500 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water led to 27,219 illnesses and eight deaths from 2000 to 2014, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Thursday. Hotels with pools, hot tubs and spas were the leading setting for these outbreaks, according to the CDC.
Hotels were associated with 157 of the 439 outbreaks, the vast majority of those occurring in pools.
Fifty-eight percent of the total outbreaks were caused by Cryptosporidium, which causes gastrointestinal illness. Because of this, the CDC warns individuals to not swim or let your children swim if sick with diarrhea.
“Swallowing just a mouthful of water with Crypto in it can make otherwise healthy kids and adults sick for weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting,” said Michele Hlavsa, the author of the study.
Cryptosporidium is transmitted when a diarrheal incident occurs in the water and the water is ingested, the CDC said.
"The parasite’s extreme chlorine tolerance enables it to persist in water, cause outbreaks that sicken thousands, and spread to multiple recreational water venues and other settings," according to the study.
Legionella, the source of Legionnaires' disease, is another cause of waterborne diseases that led to six of the eight deaths the CDC reported. The annual number of outbreaks caused by Legionella increased around 13 percent per year, the report stated.
Sixteen percent of outbreaks are caused by Legionella and 13 percent are caused by Pseudomonas, which cause hot tub rash and swimmer's ear.
The CDC said Legionella and Pseudomonas can live in a biofilm that develops when a pool, hot tub or water playground is not cleaned properly.
To better ensure safety, the CDC recommends people who know they are at risk of Legionnaires' disease to avoid hot tubs.
The CDC encourages treated venues to be operated and maintained by a trained operator.
More than half of the outbreaks started in the summer months, the peak season for swimming.