The key to preventing legionellosis is maintenance of the water systems in which Legionella grow, including drinking water systems, hot tubs, decorative fountains, and cooling towers. Guidelines for appropriate water temperatures and chemical treatment of water for legionellosis prevention can be found in ASHRAE Guideline 12-2000. There are no vaccines that can prevent legionellosis. Persons at increased risk of infection may choose to avoid high-risk exposures, such as being in or near a hot tub.
Because high water temperatures make it hard to maintain the disinfectant levels needed to kill germs like Legionella, making sure that the hot tub has the right disinfectant and pH levels is essential. Consult Facts About Legionella and Hot Tubs[206 KB, 1 page] and Datos sobre la Legionella y las bañeras de hidromasaje [192 KB, 1 page] (translation courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Public Health) to learn about the 3 steps for testing hot tub water and the 4 questions you should ask your hot tub operator to determine whether a hot tub has been properly maintained.
Low water volumes combined with high temperatures and heavy bather loads make public hot tub operation challenging. The result can be low disinfectant levels that allow the growth and spread of a variety of germs (e.g., Pseudomonas & Legionella) that can cause skin and respiratory Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs). Operators that focus on hot tub maintenance and operation to ensure continuous, high water quality are the first line of defense in preventing the spread of RWIs.
If you are involved in hot tub maintenance, you should
- Obtain state or local authority-recommended operator and chemical handling training. Read a list of national training courses.
- Read and adhere to the Operating Public Hot Tubs fact sheet for pool staff/owners[362 KB, 1 page]
If cases of Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever are linked to a hot tub, it is important to take samples for laboratory testing and then disinfect the hot tub to prevent others from being infected. Detailed instructions are available on the fact sheet Disinfection of Hot Tubs Contaminated with Legionella[165 KB, 2 pages].
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