Hot Springs Pool says bacteria well within limits
WHAT IS PSEUDOMONAS?
Pseudomonas is not considered a public health risk in swimming pools and hot tubs due to it being widely spread in our environment. Pseudomonas is not a communicable disease under state regulations, it is not even required to be reported to the public health department by physicians.
People are equally likely to encounter this bacteria in any environment, water, soil, food, even in their homes. It is a very widespread, naturally occurring bacteria.
Otherwise healthy individuals may experience a slight skin rash known as Dermatitis or Folliculitus. It is also suspected of causing swimmer’s ear.
Coming into contact with pseudomonas generally causes little to no concern for the majority of people, although it is the leading cause of healthcare associated infections.
(Source: Joshua Williams, Garfield County Environmental Health manager)
Garfield County public health officials and the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool say proper measures are being taken to make sure the pool is safe, after a local citizen reported health problems linked to a certain bacteria for which the pool tested positive on two occasions last summer.
John Bosco, chief operating officer for the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool, confirmed that routine water tests in August of 2014 revealed the bacteria pseudomonas aeruginosa in the hot therapy pool on two dates that month. But the reports indicated the levels were “negligible,” he said.
There are no required limits under state regulations for that particular bacteria, which is naturally occurring and not uncommon in public swimming pools.
It was enough of a concern, Bosco said, that pool operators double-checked chlorine levels used as part of the chlorination/ozone sanitation system, as they do every hour above and beyond the state requirement of four times per day. The pool has tested negative for the bacteria since that time, he said.
“It is very important for us to maintain those [chlorine] levels, which are regulated,” he said. “In this case, we never felt like there was any undue risk to public health.”
Bosco also said Silt resident and regular pool user Peggy Tibbetts “did the right thing” in reporting her concerns to Garfield County public health officials after she became ill and, according to her accounts, was ultimately diagnosed with the bacteria in October.
Tibbetts told the Post Independent she began experiencing stomach cramps and other intestinal symptoms soon after visiting the pool in August, and wondered then if it had something to do with the pool water.
She also brought the issue to light in her regular From the Styx blog, which often focuses on public health concerns, especially those around the oil and gas industry.
After her diagnosis, she said she contacted Garfield County’s environmental health division asking that the county look into it, which it did.
Tibbetts heard back from Joshua Williams, the county’s environmental health manager, in early November. He provided the lab reports confirming the presence of pseudomonas in the therapy pool on Aug. 6 and again on Aug. 13.
Williams also wrote in an email reply to Tibbetts, which she linked to her website, “Although we understand that this is a significant personal health matter for you, we do not determine this to be a public health issue warranting further investigation by the county at this time.”
Tibbetts said she’s still not satisfied that enough was done to alert the public to the potential health risk of elevated bacteria levels in the pool, and wonders how many others might have been exposed without even knowing it.
“It is not now and never has been my responsibility to inform the public that my infection came from contamination in the Hot Springs therapy pool,” she wrote in her blog. “That is the responsibility of the public health department.”
She told the Post Independent that the pool was the “likely source” of her infection, due to the time frame of her symptoms.
“I do think people should know about these things,” she said. “People are concerned, and they should be.”
Williams said the county did its part to respond to the inquiry and look into Tibbetts’ concerns.
But, pseudomonas is not a regulated bacteria, he said, and, while common in public swimming pools and hot tubs, is not considered a major health risk if proper chlorine levels are maintained.
“We did research it and followed up on the request,” Williams said, adding that it was determined the pool’s testing procedures were adequate and the facility was “never out of compliance” with regards to regulated bacteria, including fecal and non-fecal coliforms.
Williams said the county also is not directly responsible for monitoring public swimming pools, which are regulated by the state.
“We did determine that the pool is meeting the standards of the state regulations,” he said.
Because pseudomonas can be introduced by humans into swimming pools, Williams suggested common precautions such as showering before entering pool water and showering again with soap afterwards.
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