Here’s why you might want to think twice before swimming, according to a new CDC report

Here’s why you might want to think twice before swimming, according to a new CDC report

Before you dive into your backyard pool or take a dip in that hotel hot tub, be warned.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report warns that some dangerous bacteria can survive even in chlorinated and maintained pools.

The data was gathered between 2000 and 2014 and attributed close to 500 disease outbreaks to bacteria found in treated recreational water, including pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds. These outbreaks led to nearly 30,000 illnesses and eight deaths. Researchers determined the most outbreaks occurred in the summer months in hot tubs and hotel pools.

More than half of the outbreaks were caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium, which typically leads to gastrointestinal illness (including diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting).

Imelda Garcia, an Advocate nurse and infection preventionist at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., offers the following tips:

  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhea
  • Check the inspection scores to ensure the water park or facility is treating and testing water
  • Don’t swallow the water
  • Avoid swimming with a skin infection or an open wound skin due to the risk of it being infected

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  1. Right, it’s much better to avoid one of the best sources of non-impact exercise because a few people get sick.

  2. Holly, Did you happen to look a little further into this? I’ll be putting up our family pool shortly and would really like to know what can be done to disinfect other than “stay out of the pool”.

    • Holly Brenza

      If chlorine is kept at the right level and pH is properly maintained so that the chlorine can do its job, most germs will be killed. Frequent checking and proper maintenance of chlorine and pH levels are the most important thing you can do, as well as avoiding swimming when you are sick, have an open wound or when you have an open wound/infection.

  3. How do I check the inspection scores of a pool or hot-tub to ensure the water park or facility is treating and testing water? Is it on an independent website? Or will it be posted in that facility somewhere for public viewing? (It’s a fitness center.)



  4. Stephen Dragoni May 21, 2018 at 1:41 pm · Reply

    30,000 sicknesses in 14 years. That is an average of 2,143 per year or 0.00071% of the population.

    On average 3,536 people drown each year. You are more likely to drown than to catch a waterborne disease.

    Yes, you should always shower before going to the pool but the with only a 0.00071% chance of getting sick each year why not go in the pool.

  5. Karmen Davidian May 21, 2018 at 2:48 pm · Reply

    Thank you, for your email. I think it is true. and I like to get more information about it again.

    Karmen Davidian

  6. linda johansen May 25, 2018 at 11:47 am · Reply

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center’s consistently high pool rating from DuPage County in your additional info as you work on the same campus.
    While the study covered many pools, it is worth noting that the majority of health club and park district summer pools are carefully monitored and managed several times a day to avoid the problems mentioned.
    Swimmers should do their part to keep water as clean as possible–showering off dead skin cells and lotion before entering the pool helps keep the chemicals ready to fight threats instead of using up the protection by adding additional contaminantes to the pool water.
    The benefits of water for our bodies are worth the research to make sure a pool is well maintained.The headline to AVOID POOLS is sensational. Private pool owners need to learn the proper way to keep their pools safe.

  7. No pools for me! May 28, 2018 at 12:40 pm · Reply

    I stay out of pools because people pee in pools…and people who pee in pools disgust me. If you pee in pools, you are disgusting.

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks and playing with her dog, Bear and cats, Demi and Elle.