Chikungunya in the States
A Guest Article by Sabrina Jacobson

chikungunya

Have you heard about the Chikungunya virus? Although it is rarely fatal, its symptoms include fever and severe joint pain. Originally only present in countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa, it is gaining a presence in the United States after being carried to the Caribbean.  Starting in late 2013, a few Carribbean vacationers contracted Chikungunya, but the number of cases there has increased exponentially. This article will update you on what is happening with Chikungunya in the US since the Water Quality & Health Council’s first report on the virus.

Recently St. Lucie County health officials in Florida have been going door-to-door in order to warn citizens about the spread of the Chikungunya virus. Why should they warn people of this virus that has previously only existed as imported cases? If people contacted this virus only by vacationing in the tropics, why would we need to warn local … READ MORE >>

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Cleaning up Safely after Flooding
Joan B. Rose, PhD

Cleaning up Safely after FloodingTorrential rainfall in the Midwest and Northeast US this week led to flash flooding, filling basements with water and sewage, which can contain hundreds of pathogens.  Residents should assume flood waters are contaminated and that exposure to these waters may raise the risk of diarrhea, dysentery, even hepatitis, skin and eye infections and respiratory disorders.

The first step in the cleanup operation is to remove flood water and sewage and dry the affected area.  Powerful fans and enhanced ventilation are helpful for drying damp structural surfaces.  Meanwhile, it is important to evaluate items contacted by flood waters, deciding what to discard and what to keep.  Whenever possible, a disinfecting solution of water and chlorine bleach should be applied to affected surfaces of saved items.

To help prevent disease transmission associated with flood cleanup, the Water Quality and Health Council offers the following tips:

  • When using a disinfecting solution to clean
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Ebola: What You Should Know
Ralph Morris, MD, MPH

The deadly Ebola virus is on the move in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria (see outbreak map.)  As of August 7, CDC reports the outbreak has infected over 1,700 people and claimed the lives of more than 900.  Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever – the formal name of the disease – first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The virus was introduced to humans through close contact with the organs, blood, and other bodily fluids of infected animals, such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats and monkeys. 

Ebola has closed schools in Liberia and prompted the president of Sierra Leone to quarantine affected neighborhoods and conduct house to house searches for people who might have been exposed to the virus.  What should you know about Ebola?

Important Facts about Ebola1

  • Ebola becomes contagious only when symptoms appear in infected people. 
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Advisory Council Open Position

Water Quality and Health Council logoThe Water Quality and Health Council (WQ&HC), is seeking applicants to fill an open position.  The WQ&HC is a multidisciplinary group of independent professionals sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry trade association. The WQ&HC comprises scientific experts, health professionals and consumer advocates who serve as advisors to the ACC. The WQ&HC’s mission is to promote science based practices and policies to enhance water quality and health by advising industry, health professionals, policy makers and the public.

Members of the WQ&HC seek to provide public health officials, the media and the general public with a greater understanding of issues such as safe drinking water, wastewater, recreational waters, infection control and food safety.1  The group also assists in the interpretation of scientific information related to the various applications of chlorine disinfection, provides peer-review for ACC documents, and advises the industry on its research … READ MORE >>

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Be a Swimming Pool Myth-Buster
Water Quality & Health Council

After the record cold winter of 2013-14, lots of folks are enjoying summertime by swimming in the pool. As you cool off, dazzle your fellow swimmers with the truth about these common swimming pool myths:

toothbrushMyth #1:  The heavy chemical smell around the pool is a reminder that chlorine is present in the water for killing germs.  

Fact:  A properly disinfected swimming pool has no strong chemical smell, despite the presence of chlorine disinfectant to destroy germs.  That surprises most people.  In fact, the odor we notice around pools arises from the presence of chloramines in pool water.  Without turning this into a chemistry lesson, chloramines form when chlorine disinfectants react with contaminants brought into pools on the bodies of swimmers.  These contaminants include perspiration, urine, body oils and cosmetics.  Chloramines are irritants that can redden the eyes of swimmers and make their skin itchy.  Ironically, while many people … READ MORE >>

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