Monday, December 14, 2009

Bugs in the Water

If you travel the world, it is normal to believe that you should take some precautions about drinking the water. But most folks assume that, in this country, if you stay in a hotel the water should be safe to drink.

This morning, a luxury hotel in Miami, Florida was forced to relocate about 300 guests after one guest died and two others became ill from drinking water contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The culprit? According to an initial investigation, the hotel had installed a powerful water filter that removed the chlorine from the city water supply, and that allowed the growth of the bacteria.

What can you do to protect yourself from bacteria in the water supply? You have only a couple of options:

  • Boil water you intend to use for drinking. This is not a simple solution in a hotel room. 
  • Chemically treat the water, using water purification tablets available at a sporting goods store. This procedure requires a certain amount of time to pass before you can consume the water. 
  • Filter the drinking water with a compact backpacker's filter that is capable of removing bacteria and cysts. Weird as this sounds, it might be a viable solution to the problem. 
  • Purchase bottled water. This gets expensive, but might work for you. 
One problem to be aware of is that the hotel and restaurants uses the local water supply to make ice cubes. if the liquid water is contaminated, the frozen water will pose the same risk. You can avoid this hazard by ordering your drinks without ice cubes. 

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