Hot tubs may give you more than you bargained for

29 June 2010


Hot tubs and spa pools can provide a great deal of pleasure in the hot sticky summer months but can also pose a significant health risk as they are not subject to the same stringent water quality checks as swimming pools.

If hot tubs are not looked after properly it’s really easy for bugs and germs to multiply with the warm water forming the perfect breeding ground. As a result, people can become prone to contracting skin, ear, eyes, gut and respiratory tract infections. 

In more serious cases, people have been known to contract Legionella which is a bacterium that lives in moist environments and is often associated with warm water such as showers and air conditioning units. The Legionella bacterium causes a serious but fortunately relatively uncommon type of pneumonia called Legionnaires Disease which is spread by tiny water droplets originating from a water source.

Kathy Wakefield is the Infection Control Specialist Nurse at NHS Rotherham:

“We know people enjoy water as a way of cooling down in the warmer weather, and we certainly don’t want to worry people into not having fun. But we do want everyone to enjoy a happy and healthy summer so it’s really important to keep yourself and your friends safe. If you own a spa or tub, it is essential that you know how to control these bacteria by following your user instructions especially on how and when to clean and disinfect your hot tub or spa pool.”

Bacteria can be introduced into hot tubs and spa pools in a number of ways. The most obvious cause is by the people using it either by entering the pool on the skin or the introduction of soil, leaves and grass which can be sources of nasty bugs. Also if not properly cleaned, slime builds up in the water pipes or from the water supply itself and again the warm wet conditions allow these bacteria to grow and multiply. As the water is agitated, aerosols are produced that can then be breathed in by people in or near to the pool.

For advice on maintaining and cleaning your spa or tub, please contact your retailer. You can find out more about Legionnaires Disease and other infectious diseases on the Health Protection Agency website.

Last reviewed: 29/06/2010

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