Yes. You can get Legionnaires’ Disease from a hot tub.
While hot tubs can offer therapeutic benefits like relieving stress and easing muscle soreness, if not properly maintained, they can become breeding grounds for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe, sometimes fatal, form of pneumonia.
Legionnaires’ disease is transmitted through contaminated water vapor, it is not spread through person-to-person contact. Inhaling water mist that contains Legionella bacteria can cause an infection in the lungs. Because of the steam or mist they generate, hot tubs are a common source of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.
How Does Legionella Get into Hot Tubs?
Legionella occurs in nature but grows best in warm water especially the temperature range for hot tubs which is usually 96˚F – 104˚F. But those same temperatures, in fact at any temperature above 78˚F, chlorine, a common disinfectant for hot tubs, begins to breakdown more rapidly rendering it less effective at combating the bacterial load. So, proper maintenance of a hot tub is a balancing act that requires vigilance and regular testing. When outbreaks occur, it’s often the case that one or both of these elements were missing.
A 2018 study called, Legionellosis Associated with Recreational Waters: A Systematic Review of Cases and Outbreaks in Swimming Pools, Spa Pools, and Similar Environments reviewed 22 Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks that occurred between 2006 and 2017. Researchers found that of the hot tubs involved:
- 31.8 percent had no or inadequate water treatment
- 31.8 percent had an improper disinfectant level
- 27.3 percent had no monitoring or recording of parameters
- 18.2 percent had lack of maintenance, improper cleaning of filters
What are the Symptoms?
Some people are more vulnerable to Legionella infections than others. For example, current and former smokers, people over 50 and people with compromised immune systems are all at elevated risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.
Symptoms of an infection, which include headache, muscle aches, fever, shortness of breath and cough, usually develop within two to 14 days of exposure. Most people with Legionnaires’ disease require hospitalization. For about 10 percent of patients, the infection proves fatal.
If you have symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, see a doctor and mention any possible exposure such as a soak in a hot tub, or a visit to a hospital or hotel.
If you or a family member are part of an outbreak and you need legal help, contact us. Pritzker Hageman Legionnaires’ disease lawyers have decades of experience representing people who have been sickened by Legionella bacteria and families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. Call us for a free consultation at 1-888-377-8900 (toll-free), text 612-261-0856 or use the form below.
Recent Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks Linked to Hot Tubs
Ongoing 2019 NC Mountain State Fair
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair held September 6-15, 2019 at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher includes 142 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and four deaths. Pritzker Hageman filed the first lawsuit in connection with this outbreak and is representing multiple clients.
2019 Family YMCA, Waco, TX
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak linked to the hot tub at the Family YMCA in Waco, TX sickened at least two people.
2018 Water Oak Country Club in Lady Lake, FL
Two people who used the hot tub at the 55+ community developed Legionnaires’ disease.
2018 Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak at 2 New Hampshire Hotels
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak involving hot tubs at two New Hampshire hotels -the Sands Resort and the Harris Sea Ranch Motel, sickened 12 people killing one of them.
2018 Four Seasons 55+ community in Palm Springs, California
Two residents who used the pool and spa area developed Legionnaires’ disease.
2017 SpringHill Suites in Round Rock, TX
Six guests who used or sat near the hot tub developed Legionnaires’ disease.
2013 Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak at 24 Hour Fitness in Memphis Tennessee
Three people who used the hot tub developed Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac Fever
Ten Questions Concerning the Aerosolization and Transmission of Legionella in the Built Environment
Legionellosis Associated with Recreational Waters: A Systematic Review of Cases and Outbreaks in Swimming Pools, Spa Pools, and Similar Environments