DEAR ABBY: "Gary" and I were married two months ago. For our honeymoon, we took a cruise to the eastern Caribbean.
One week after our return, I came down with a yeast infection that I treated with an over-the-counter medication. A few days later, Gary got what we thought was a urinary tract infection, which we treated with lots of water and cranberry juice. When neither of our conditions improved, we went to the doctor, who diagnosed us both with chlamydia.
We were shocked! Gary and I had both tested negative for all STDs before we were married. The nurse asked if we had been in a hot tub recently, and we replied that we'd spent many hours in hot tubs on the cruise ship. The nurse then informed us that chlamydia is a bacteria, and bacteria love warm, moist environments -- like hot tubs. She said it was the most likely source of this disease in our case.
We contacted the cruise line and told them that their hot tubs were not clean and asked them to reimburse us for the cost of our prescriptions. The man I spoke to refused and accused me of lying.
I know you can't help me with the cruise line, Abby, but I want to warn your readers about public hot tubs. Perhaps it will save others from contracting a disease like we did. -- CONTAMINATED IN OHIO
DEAR OHIO: Thank you for wanting to spare others your unfortunate experience.
After reading your letter, I contacted the Centers for Disease Control National STD and AIDS Hotline (1-800-342-2437). I was told that chlamydia is NOT transmitted by sitting in or on the rim of a hot tub, nor by any other inanimate object. It is transmitted through genital contact.
Two diseases that "potentially" can be spread in and around swimming pools and hot tubs -- although it has NOT been well-documented -- are trichomoniasis (a parasite) and molluscum contagiosum (a virus), which can also be transmitted from unclean towels or bathing suits.
The most important thing your letter illustrates to me is how important it is for people to be properly diagnosed, rather than treating themselves with over-the-counter remedies.