When you’re going on a family vacation that involves swimming, what do you usually pack? Sunscreen, of course. Swimsuits. Accessories such as hats, sunglasses and cover-ups. Pool toys and gear for the kids. Snacks for the trip. First aid kits and emergency medicine supplies. These are just some of the essential items that every travelling family should have in their packing list. But if you want to double up the health precautions to ensure a fun and safe vacation, you might also want to prepare your know-how on preventing your family from catching Legionnaire’s disease. 

People who are going on a trip, especially if it’s a holiday in a resort, spa, hotel or cruise ship that features hot tubs and whirling pools, are most likely looking forward to a relaxing, rejuvenating, and therapeutic experience. Going someplace nice and being in the company of those you love indeed have many benefits, but it’s also important to be aware of potential diseases that you and your family may be exposed to during your vacation. According to health experts and leading Legionella testing kit providers, heated pools and hot tubs can be a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria. Exposure to this type of bacteria can lead to Legionnaire’s disease – a treatable yet highly potentially aggressive respiratory disease that can cause serious complications (or even death) in senior adults, children and people with low immunity.   

Aside from warm water environments found in hot tubs and whirlpools (indoor facilities are especially vulnerable), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say other identified other Legionella hotspots commonly found in aquatic facilities include cooling towers or mist sprayers, decorative pools and fountains, physical therapy equipment and water systems in hotels – every single shower head in the facility should be religiously sanitised to prevent it from harbouring infectious bacteria. The simple inhalation of contaminated microscopic water droplets can already cause Legionella infection. It means you don’t even have to swim or touch the water – merely breathing air circulating through an infected ventilation system can already cause illness. 

One way to reduce the chances of being exposed to this disease is to ensure that the establishment you’re going to follows a rigorous schedule of cleaning, sanitation and disinfection of their pools and tubs; shower heads must also be treated with an effective solution such as Shower Head Plus. Since warm water environments create a favourable setting for Legionella bacteria to grow and multiply, business establishments must see to it that their facilities, particularly water sources and storage, are properly maintained and treated with chemicals according to protocols recommended or mandated by health authorities.

+Duncan Hollis