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A hard-to-destroy germ called Cryptosporidium can resist the chlorine disinfectant in swimming pools and is a leading cause of pool-related outbreaks, federal health officials said Thursday, 19659004 Hotel swimming pools and hot tubs can be an important source of these outbreaks, said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
One third of outbreaks to pools between 2000 and 201
And many of these cases were caused by Cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes diarrhea, as well as by the bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease, and a second Bacterium called Pseudomonas.
Cryptosporidium, or crypto for short, caused 58 percent of the outbreaks in which a microbe could be identified, and 89 percent of the diseases, the CDC said.
"Most microbes are killed within minutes by the amount of chlorine that the CDC recommends, and this is required by state and local governments," said Michele Hlavsa, head of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program.
"Crypto can survive for seven or more days, it takes a lot of chlorine to kill Krypto."
And although crypto Diarrhea – and yes, that's what you think – can be hard to see in a pool full of kids.
"Diarrhea caused by crypts can be quite watery, so it can be quite furtive," said Hlavsa.
Parents should not allow children to go into pools if they have recently had diarrhea, and babies need to watch more closely. If there is diarrhea, the pool operator should clean the pool and flush with extremely high amounts of chlorine or bromine to kill the parasite.
That does not always happen.
Hlavsa's team at CDC went through reports of 493 outbreaks that could be linked to swimming pools between 2000 and 2014.
They have made many people sick: more than 27,000 diseases. Eight people died
More than half of the cases were caused by crypto, which infects humans when they swallow contaminated pool water. Another 16 percent was caused by Legionella bacteria, which are usually inhaled in water spray.
Pseudomonas caused 13 percent of the disease and also caused folliculitis or "whirlpool rash" and otitis externa or "swimmer's ear".
"Hotels were the leading setting, with 157 (32 percent) of the 493 outbreaks," said the CDC team.
Chlorine is very effective at killing germs when kept at the right levels and when the pH of the pool is kept at the right level for the disinfectant to work.
In 2013, the CDC stated that 20 percent of inspections of public spas and spas showed that they did not have enough disinfectants.
And bacteria can grow into mats called biofilms, which then resist the effects of chlorine and other disinfectants. These slimy biofilms usually need to be scrubbed off.
Hotel pools are unlikely to differ from other public swimming pools, according to Hlavsa.
"We underestimate what is needed to properly operate a pool, be it a hotel pool or a waterpark pool," she said.
A well trained operator must be on hand to make sure the chlorine or bromine concentration and pH are where he should be, and he should look for incidents – even after hard-to-see ones clean and disinfect the basin immediately.
Why showering is so important
It also helps to enforce the rules of showering.
Proper showering not only removes residual fouling that could get into a pool, but it removes the oil, sweat, and dirt that react with chlorine making it less effective.
"It consumes the chlorine that would actually kill germs," Hlavsa said.
"The problem with peeing in the pool and the problem of not taking a shower before you go into the pool is that urine and sweat and dirt combine with chlorine in the water."
Urine is not sterile, contrary to popular belief. "Pee can interact with chlorine," Hlavsa said.
That's what makes people's eyes sting after swimming. It is not the chlorine. It's urine.
"It's really, really, really important to take a shower and not to pee in the pool," said Hlavsa.
How can people protect themselves?
Hlavsa, who takes her own two small children's pools, recommends chlorine test strips at home.
"You can buy test strips at a hardware store or a large store," she said. She said a box of 100 can only cost a few dollars. "They have small pads on them, you dip them in the water and the pads change color depending on the pH or chlorine or bromine levels," she said.
Drinking water is chlorinated, but not at the level needed to make pools safe. A swimming pool should have 1 part per million chlorine, while a hot tub should have 3 parts per million.