If youâ€™ve picked up a womenâ€™s magazine this summer (like in your local waiting room) you may have seen an article purporting that new research found that Hepatitis C transmission can occur in your local hot tub–it advises that, given the high rate of 1 in 6 people having Hepatitis C, transmission is likely to occur in the warm virus friendly water of a hot tub, and that one should choose a hot tub that is well tended (kept clean) and not crowded, if you dare go at all.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a nasty urban legend about Hepatitis C transmission that has made it into a mainstream magazine. First, only about 2% of the population has chronic Hepatitis C (Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B have higher rates, according to the CDC, and overall Hepatitis C transmission rates have been dropping since 1990). Second, Hepatitis C transmission only occurs with blood to blood contact, so you arenâ€™t at risk of catching it from your local spa.
However, it is good advice not to get in a hot tub (or pool) if you have an open wound, whether or not you have Hepatitis C. Transmission of Hepatitis C and other diseases (like Staph/MRSA), is possible when you go into a crowded, germ-y place like the local rec-center with a wound (especially if youâ€™re swimming, which will soften and possibly open any scabs, or if itâ€™s on your hands or feet which come into contact with many more people and surfaces).
As far as other Hepatitis C transmission legends, like getting it from your local nail salon, the best thing to do is to keep an eye out for safe practices: do they clean their instruments after each customer? Do they throw away one use items? You may remember the Hepatitis C outbreak that made the news a couple of months ago–this advice is something to keep in mind not just when youâ€™re out exercising or grooming, but when youâ€™re at a hospital or health care center, as a number were found to not keep proper practices!
Just a reminder: it usually takes 6 months for the Hepatitis C virus to show up on a test or for Hep C symptoms to show up, and many people with strong immune systems will defeat the virus without ever knowing they had it–however, donâ€™t count on this! Always be mindful of safe health practices: use condoms, be careful of open wounds (even the smallest tear), and have frank conversations with any sexual partners.
And as a final note, if your Hep C treatment involves an intense drug regimen, be careful about soaking in the hot tub. The heat may have a negative affect on your health, causing such things as light headed-ness or dehydration. Consider strengthening your immune system with supplements, and keeping it strong by watching the aspects of your health you have some control over: stress, eating (and nutrition in general), exercise, etc.