Zika Virus: On the Move
Ralph Morris, MD, MPH and Fred M. Reiff, P.E.

Zika virus is being actively transmitted by mosquitoes in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Curacao, Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Barbados.

The Zika virus, a flavivirus1, is spreading “explosively” through several Latin American and Caribbean countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), prompting that group to declare an international health emergency which, according to the BBC “…means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.”  The virus is transmitted through the bite of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the same mosquito that, according to WHO, transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.  The virus was identified in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys, then in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania in 1952.  Recently, Zika … READ MORE >>


Keeping the Lead out of Drinking Water
Chris Wiant, MPH, PhD

The recent lead in drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan raises questions about the role of water distribution infrastructure in altering the quality of water delivered to consumers.  In Flint, lead was leached from the water distribution system after the city changed from the Detroit Water System, which takes water from Lake Huron, to the Flint River.  Reports say this change probably increased the water’s corrosivity enough to dissolve lead from lead components that still remain in the aging infrastructure.

What is EPA Doing?

Lead has been banned in US drinking water infrastructure since 1986, but it is still present in the joints of old cast iron pipes, lead service lines, and the indoor plumbing of old homes, brass fittings, and lead-based solder used on copper pipes.1  The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 1991 Lead and Copper Rule mandates water systems implement measures to control the corrosivity of drinking … READ MORE >>


This Winter, Use Your Senses around Your Indoor Pool
Bob G. Vincent

A “Natatorium” is an indoor swimming pool.

Is swimming your exercise of choice this winter? According to the US Census Bureau, swimming is America’s fourth most popular recreational activity after (1) walking,
(2) exercising with equipment and (3) camping. Unless you’re a polar bear, indoor pools help make swimming a year-round option, and swimming brings health benefits galore. But how do you know if you are swimming in a healthy indoor pool?

The Water Quality & Health Council asks swimmers to be sensible around the pool. Translation: In addition to making smart decisions on safety, such as diving only in designated areas and not running on the deck, swimmers can use their five senses to:

  1. See: You should be able to see clearly through the water to the pool floor stripes.
  2. Smell: Indoor pools should not have a strong, irritating chemical odor. This is a common problem in

Preventing RSV
Ralph Morris, MD, MPH

What is RSV?
RSV is “Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) Virus,” a virus that affects the lungs and breathing passages.  In healthy people, an RSV infection resembles a cold (colds are caused by rhinoviruses, another type of virus), but the very young and the very old[1]
and those with weakened immune systems may develop more serious symptoms.  Healthcare and child care workers are also at risk for RSV infections.

RSV affects millions of children each year.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (lung infection) in children younger than one year of age in the United States.  CDC notes that nearly all children will have an RSV infection by their second birthday.

Up to 40 percent of children will have signs or symptoms of bronchiolitis or … READ MORE >>


Closing Produce Contaminant Loopholes
Water Quality & Health Council

What role could organic and locally sourced produce have played in the recent Chipotle foodborne illness outbreaks?  As we reported previously, Chipotle’s 2014 annual report notes the company’s “significant commitment to serving local or organic produce when seasonally available.”  Chipotle admits these initiatives may “present additional risk of food-borne illnesses given the greater number of suppliers involved in such a system and the difficulty of imposing our quality assurance programs on all such suppliers.”  We agree, and we suggest that uncertainties and “contaminant loopholes” exist in federal regulations that may be contributing to US foodborne outbreaks associated, not only with Chipotle, but with any vendor or consumer sourcing local and organic produce. READ MORE >> READ MORE >>

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