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Pseudomonas Afruginosa in Spas


Bacteria is common in spas due to high water temperatures and heavy bather load, which often causes inconsistent sanitation. Pseudamonas, a common pathogenic bacteria that causes folliculitis, is the most common. Folliculitis, called “Hot Tub Dermatitis” by many dermatologists, causes a skin rash by infecting the hair follicle.

The following information is being provided to you at your request. Perhaps you have called with questions regarding a rash or itching that have appeared after using a spa. These guidelines are not meant to replace professional medical advice. You are encouraged to contact a physician at any point you so desire. These directions are given to assist you in ridding the spa of a common bacteria that may be there. To keep it from growing again, it is important to follow the daily and weekly sanitizing guidelines for the spa. If you have any questions about proper sanitation, the chemical department at Ultra Modern Pool and Patio will be glad to assist you.

PSEUDOMONAS AFRUGINOSA – (PA) is a common bacteria found throughout our natural environment. It lives in soil, fresh water and moist places. PA multiplies rapidly in hot water, doubling itself approximately every 20 to 25 minutes. It is resistant to hot water up to 110 degrees. It feeds on the body oils, greases and sweat. Studies have shown that seven percent of all people carry PA on their skin, and ten percent in their lower bowel, without showing any signs or symptoms of an infection.

An infection by the PA bacteria occurs at the base of hair follicles on your body. Sometimes the rash is referred to as “Folliculitis”. As the bacteria irritates and plugs the follicles, red splotches, bumps and/or itching may occur. Such rashes are most often seen on arms, legs, and/or trunk, 8 to 48 hours after exposure. There are occasional cases where pimple-like pustules will appear. Symptoms usually disappear in seven to ten days without treatment. You are encouraged to contact a physician if so desired.

Follow these directions completely to rid your spa of bacteria. If you omit or change a step, it is likely that the bacteria will remain and continue to grow. To prevent recurrent growth, you must maintain the recommended daily and weekly measures of sanitizer. If you don’t know what these are, call Ultra Modern Pool and Patio and ask for the chemical department.

Drain the spa completely, making sure to flush out or sponge out the filter compartment.
Fill a pail with fresh water and 8 tablespoons of sodium dichlor (granulated chlorine). NEVER ADD WATER TO CHEMICALS. ALWAYS START WITH WATER, THEN ADD CHEMICALS! Test the water in the pail to ensure that it is “shocked” to a chlorine level of at least 10 parts per million (ppm). You will probably want to wear rubber gloves and use caution in breathing the vapors.
Remove the filter cartridge and either clean or replace it. To clean a cartridge, first use a filter cleaner as per label directions. After rinsing the cartridge, completely submerge the cartridge in a 1/10 dilution of sodium hypochlorite (liquid bleach) from one to four hours. Inspect and clean the filter housing interior. Install filter grids after spa decontamination is complete.

Scrub the entire spa shell, including the air/jet control levers and the lip of plastic shell around the top edge of the spa with a sponge and the pail of super-chlorinated water.

Scrub the underside of the spa cover and handles with the same sponge and water.
Rinse the spa and spa cover thoroughly with a garden hose.

Fill the spa with fresh water. Shock that water to above 10 ppm. It is very important that the chlorine level stay above 10 ppm for at least 48 hours. During these 48 hours, run the jets two times per day for ten minutes each time. You do not need to drain the spa again. Rebalance spa.
Another option for removing bacterial growth that does not require scrubbing but does require emptying the spa twice — is as follows:
– Drain spa completely.
– Refill with fresh water just above the jets.
– Shock spa with 3-4 times the normal superchlorination treatment of chlorinated concentrate.
– Allow the spa to circulate for 2-3 hours. Turn the jets on several times for five minutes at a time. – – While running circulation, remove the cartridge filter and soak in a chlorine and water solution of approximately 2 tsp. of Chlorinated Concentrate to ten gallons of water or replace with new cartridge.
– Drain spa again, refill with fresh water and rebalance and sanitize.

Spa use may resume once the chlorine level lowers to 4-5 ppm (1-3 ppm if you have a Fresh Water Ozone System). An infected person should stay out of the spa until all symptoms are gone, including redness. If a person with visible symptoms re-enters the cleaned spa, it is very likely that the bacteria will again begin multiplying rapidly, necessitating draining, cleaning and shocking all over again.

To verify decontamination, shock treat the spa with 10 ppm of chlorine. Allow the spa to circulate overnight or for a period of 8-12 hours, then check the sanitizer level in the spa. If no free chlorine residual is present, excessive demand may still exist. Repeat the decontamination procedure from the first step. Prevent chlorine losses due to sunshine degradation by keeping the spa covered and/or carrying out verification step overnight. If two attempts at decontamination fail to produce a chlorine residual, contact Ultra Modern Pool & Patio for advice.

If residual free chlorine sanitizer is found in step 1, proceed with routine maintenance of the spa according to local health department requirements or ANSI/NSPI standards.

If after two successive attempts to decontaminate the spa, evidence of contamination persists, a serious problem may exist. Do not resume use of the spa until the problem has been resolved by a qualified professional.

Bulletin #501