Waterborne Illnesses To Be Cautious Of Throughout Your Travels

Whether you’re a frequent vacationer or are required to repeatedly travel for work, you may find yourself visiting parts of the world with questionable water conditions. While traveling, limiting your exposure to contaminated water is imperative. One of the most common locations that travelers often find themselves exposed to waterborne illnesses are their hotels. A lap around the hotel pool, a quick stop in the sauna, or even your room’s shower could be the culprit of exposing you to potentially life-threatening bacteria. Hotel hygiene is important, and this post will detail how to remain safe on your travels. 

As you can see from the infographic coupled with this post, there is a lot to take in when it comes to remaining vigilant throughout your hotel stay. The information is particularly poignant for those travelers who may have underlying health conditions, as some of the risks and illnesses that can be contracted through travel could be life threatening. This information is also a huge concern for parents traveling with their children, particularly newborns and infants. As the infographic points out, the two most common water-based illness that threaten your travels are Legionnaires’ Disease and Cryptosporidiosis.

For those unaware, Legionnaires’ is a disease discovered as a result of a hotel-wide breakout in the late 1970’s. The hotel was home to the American Legion Convention in Philadelphia, which consisted of over 2,000 guests. Approximately 182 of these guests were infected with the Legionella bacteria, with 29 of those infected passing away. Now notorious, this disease has only gone on to harm more lives. Legionella is typically transmitted through water droplets in the air. Meaning HVAC systems that funnel air throughout hotels are dangerously effective at spreading such a bacteria. This means that a responsibility of properly maintaining and monitoring these systems falls on hotels and their staff. Guests are dependent on these hotels to ensure the safety of these systems, meaning if you feel unsure about any particular hotel you may find yourself staying at; it is best to trust your gut and evacuate to remain safe. 

While Cryptosporidiosis may not have as interesting an origin story as Legionnaires’, it is certainly still a dangerous disease. The parasite responsible for transmitting this illness is known as Cryptosporidium. Typically those infected will face severe diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. These are all feelings you likely want to avoid while on vacation, whether it be for leisure or business. Unfortunately, this parasite tends to infect a majority of its victims through recreational water sources in most hotels. Your hotel’s pool, hot tub, saunas, steam rooms, etc., are all places to avoid if there’s been any evidence of cryptosporidium presence. While this might diminish the experience of a typical hotel stay, it is important for frequent travelers to understand the dangers this parasite can cause in addition to how to avoid it throughout their hotel stay. 

Legionnaires’ and Cryptosporidiosis are only two of many waterborne illnesses that can be contracted while traveling. Researching the other more common illnesses is important before any major traveling. Some of the best advice for those traveling in parts of the world where water conditions are questionable is to avoid drinking water and default to bottled water is possible. In addition to this, conduct some research regarding the local water health situation prior to traveling to your destination. This will give you the best idea of how to remain safe throughout your stay. 

Chris Ebener is a mechanical engineer for LiquiTech, with a proven track record of diagnosing and remediating public water system issues of various sizes and complexity. Ebener is an expert on the biochemical makeup of facility water systems, system architecture and various methodologies of public drinking water treatment.


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