Chlorinating Brainerd’s Drinking Water Can Save Lives
Bruce K. Bernard, PhD

There’s a controversy brewing in the Mississippi River city of Brainerd, Minnesota that is about to boil over.  On October 28, the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission will debate whether or not to chlorinate the city’s drinking water on a permanent basis.  The question for many in the municipality of nearly 14,000 is whether disinfecting is worth potentially changing the taste of water that has been called “the world’s best drink”.


The vast majority of US water systems add a residual level of chlorine disinfectant to protect water quality as it travels from the treatment plant to the tap. Not so in Brainerd.  According to an October 11 article in the Star Tribune, chlorine is added to Brainerd’s water only when bacterial contamination is detected.  Chlorination has had to be employed in Brainerd three times since 1987, including in September, when a water main break contaminated the supply, forcing residents … READ MORE >>

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Introducing the CDC Model Aquatic Health Code
Linda Golodner

CDC's Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC)

This summer, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the availability of the first edition of its Model Aquatic Health Code. “The MAHC,” as it is known, provides free guidance on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of public swimming pools and spas. Why is such a document needed?

As CDC notes on its website, there is no federal regulatory agency responsible for the proper functioning of aquatic facilities. About 68 percent of local health departments regulate or inspect public swimming pools and facilities. These health departments write and update their codes periodically, expending valuable local resources.  And yet, in 2010, CDC reported one in eight pool inspections conducted in 15 states in 2008 resulted in immediate closures due to serious violations, such as a lack of disinfectant in the water.  Poorly operated aquatic facilities can lead to drowning, recreational water illness outbreaks and chemical … READ MORE >>

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Chlorine Bleach: A Trusted Ally in the Battle against Ebola
Water Quality & Health Council

A group of San Diego women with close ties to the West African nation of Liberia is raising funds to help fight the Ebola outbreak in that country. Their chosen weapon:  buckets of bleach.  In a recent video, Deborah Lindholm, the founder of the group, Foundation for Women, describes life today in Liberia:  “There are no handshakes, no touching, no hugging; there is just complete and utter fear in Liberia right now…There are buckets of bleach all over the streets in Liberia and the people in Liberia and in the surrounding areas that have been affected by Ebola understand that if they keep their hands clean they can kill off the virus.

Hand washing is an extremely important component of infection control as germs picked up on the hands are readily transferred to the eyes, mouth and nose by touching.  Keeping all settings clean—homes, healthcare settings, … READ MORE >>

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Enterovirus 68: The New Respiratory Virus on Our Radar
Ralph Morris, MD, MPH

 

SickpersonA previously uncommon respiratory virus has shown up on our radar:  Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68), a non-polio enterovirus.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, from mid-August to October 1 of this year, 500 people in 42 states and the District of Columbia were confirmed to have EV-D68 infections, but these probably only represent “the tip of the iceberg,” as healthcare professionals are not required to report known or suspected cases of EV-68.  CDC reports that infants and children under 5 years old, children with asthma, and teenagers are at risk to contract enteroviruses, which are known to peak in the United States in late summer and early fall.  Many of the children affected in the recent outbreak required care in hospital intensive care units.

Asthma-like Symptoms

EV-D68 was first identified in four children in California in 1962, but until recently, was considered relatively rare.  … READ MORE >>

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Naegleria in Louisiana: Fighting the Right Fight
Chris Wiant, M.P.H., Ph.D

The identification of the “brain-eating amoeba,” Naegleria fowleri, in some Louisiana drinking water and three tragic deaths from this organism since 2011 has prompted an aggressive response to rid state water systems of the amoeba. This article examines the strategy being used to combat Naegleria in Louisiana, and reinforces the importance of staying the present course to ensure lasting good water quality and a restoration of public confidence.  There will almost certainly be a multitude of valuable lessons learned from this episode.

Taking the Fight to Naegleria’s Stronghold

Although Naegleria fowleri may enter treatment plants from natural source waters, the amoeba is effectively removed through the filtration and disinfection steps of appropriate water treatment. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if it enters the distribution system, either by virtue of insufficient treatment or a break in the distribution system, Naegleria gets another chance at life.  That … READ MORE >>

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