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Parasites at Spas: What You Need to Know

Written by andy

Parasites at spas: watch your butt.

The soft music, wonderful smells, and calming ambience are amazing when you just need to chill, and you lie back on the massage table, sauna, or hot tub to let the tension drain away. But is a spa really a safe place for you and your digestive system? You may find that there are a few risks to attending spa day, namely, the myriad parasites and germs that can be found at the spa.

Germs? Parasites? Ew! Read on to find out everything you need to know…

Parasites in Spas

Here are a few of the parasites and pathogens that may be lurking in your spa:

  • Giardia — Giardia are parasites that make their home in the intestines of animals and humans. If the water supply is contaminated by sewage runoff (containing human and animal wastes), the parasites can live in the warm water of a spa or hot tub. If you accidentally ingest water that has been contaminated, you run the risk of developing a giardia infection. Symptoms of the infection include diarrhea, fatigue, gas, cramps, bloating, and nausea.
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa —This is a bacterium that lives in water that is unmoving and stagnant. Considering how long the water has been in the hot tub at your spa, there’s a very good chance that there is bacteria present. This bacteria causes ear infections and certain skin infections. While children may be more at risk than adults, there’s still the chance of anyone developing an infection when coming in contact with this bacteria.

READ MORE: Must Know Tips for Spa Lovers

  • Cryptosporidium — This is a parasite that can often live in hot tubs, and it can lead to a serious infection. If the water of your spa is contaminated and you ingest it, the parasite can burrow into the walls of your intestines. There, they can cause an infection with symptoms like dehydration, diarrhea, weight loss, stomach pain, cramps, vomiting, nausea, and fever. Thankfully, the symptoms usually disappear within a few weeks.
  • Shigellosis –– This is a bacteria that can be found in contaminated, stagnant water. If sewage runoff leaks into the groundwater supply used for your hot tub or spa, the contact with fecal matter can contaminate the water. Shigellosis is marked by symptoms like bloody diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
  • Norovirus –– This is a highly contagious virus that can live in contaminated water. It is actually the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the country, and it leads to around 70,000 hospitalizations every year. If you swallow contaminated water, the virus causes inflammation in your intestines and stomach, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
  • E. coli — The E. coli bacteria is not as common a cause of illness at spas, but it’s much more common in municipal and communal swimming pools. Once it contaminates the water, those who swallow that water run the risk of developing serious nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and stomach pain. E. coli infections can be very serious if not treated.
  • Legionella –-The legionella bacteria is known to be the cause of Legionnaire’s disease, a very serious lung infection. You’ll find that any stagnant body of water can be contaminated with these bacteria, and the infection is spread via inhalation rather than physical contact. You don’t even need to swallow the water to risk getting sick!

Parasites at spas enjoy the soothing atmosphere just as much as you do, so pop a probiotic next time you go for a steam.

About the author


Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise--he does so six days a week--and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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