Hot Tub Germ Machine? Can the Spa Make You Sick?

New information reveals the common outbreak that occurs during wintertime

So what seems more appealing — heating up your freezing cold body in a spa or hot tub or dealing with some type of bacterial infection?

According to a report just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, disease outbreaks are linked to “recreational water exposure” (i.e. pools, lakes, hot tubs) even during the winter months. (FYI: An outbreak is defined as two or more people who visited the same location, around the same time, getting sick, states the site LiveScience.come.)

Data gathered from 28 states and Puerto Rico claimed the following: 22 percent of these winter outbreaks were connected to hot tubs and spas, with the majority of these being hotel facilities. And nearly 40 percent of these outbreaks happened between February and March.

The number one winter illness — an infection caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In other words, a type of infection that causes a skin rash or ear infection.

So what’s the big problem? The near-boiling temperature in a hot tub makes it difficult to keep the level of disinfectant as high as it needs to be, Michele Hlavsa, an epidemiologist at the CDC's Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, told the website.

The solution…keep your eyes open and be choosy about where you decide to dip yourself. Truth be told, the numbers aren’t as alarming as they may seem. In over the course of two years (2009 and 2010), there were 81 outbreaks and 1,326 cases of illness reported. Out of the 81 outbreaks, “only” 18 were linked to spas and hot tubs. So the odds are in your favor. That being said, I’ve always seen any type of manmade public bath as a cesspool of germs. But that’s just me.

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