This week, CDC or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued a report that documented as many as 90 illness outbreaks associated with recreational water bodies (pools, lakes and hot tubs) between 2011 and 2012. The illnesses affected a minimum of 1,788 individuals and caused one death and at least 95 hospitalizations.
The number, according to CDC officials, has increased significantly. The documented figures include data from 32 states and Puerto Rico.
The majority of the above mentioned outbreaks had links with recreational water that undergo treatments. These include hot tubs and swimming pools. In addition, most outbreaks, according the report, were associated with gastrointestinal illness-causing parasite Cryptosporidium. This parasite, according to experts, can survive even in water that has been chlorinated for killing germs for ten days or more.
According to the report’s lead author Michele Hlavsa, Cryptosporidium is highly chlorine resistant. She added that swimmers are usually the ones responsible for bringing this parasite into pools and hot tubs when they are suffering from diarrhea.
The report has stated that since 1988, the number of such outbreaks have increased significantly. For those who don’t know: the year 1988 witnessed detection of the first ever treated recreational water-associated Cryptosporidium outbreak in the United States. Since then, the number of these outbreaks is reported once every year.
Experts are saying that one of the most striking revelations made by this new report from CDC is the fact that 77% of Cryptosporidium outbreaks are taking place in treated water. The term treated water is used for hot tubs, spas, pools etc. and not lakes and ponds, where getting infected by parasites like Cryptosporidium shouldn’t be surprising as they would usually proliferate easily in such environments.
Here, it must be mentioned that in the United States, laws governing spas and recreational pools are established by local or state agencies. The CDC report states that disparities in regulating laws might be responsible for the steady increase in the number of outbreaks.
According to Hlavsa, due to different standards set in different states, people are reacting differently. He believes that there should be a specific set of regulations for being followed across the US.
Last year, we saw CDC issuing a MAHC or Model Aquatic Health Code that presented scientific guidelines for improving water quality. Experts at CDC have recommended that water venues that have hosted several Cryptosporidium outbreaks should be installing secondary disinfection such as ozone or ultraviolet light for killing the parasite.