Category Archives: Featured

Avoiding Salmonella from Backyard Poultry

BackyardPoultryBackyard poultry farming is an increasingly popular trend in urban and suburban areas that permit it, giving families a fun way to raise food while learning to care for animals. Assuming roosters are banned in the neighborhood for their earsplitting “cock-a-doodle-doo,” what could be the downside of raising poultry in the backyard? The answer is illness. Unfortunately, outbreaks of Salmonella infection linked to backyard poultry are on the rise. We have described this type of disease in a previous article as a “zoonotic disease,” which is one that can spread between animals and humans under natural conditions, e.g., in your own backyard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella bacteria reside in poultry droppings and on the feathers, feet and beaks of poultry, even though the chicks and ducklings may appear clean and healthy. Any human contact, whether through handling poultry directly or … READ MORE >>

Finished Drinking Water and Treatment Fundamentals

Finished Drinking WaterDrinking water has been called the 2nd most essential human need (after the air we breathe). Every day, over 50,000 community drinking water systems serve over 300 million Americans, with just 3 percent of these systems serving almost 80 percent of the US population.1,2 Regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and supported by the work of federal, state, tribal and local governments and utilities, the US drinking water system has been recognized as one of the nation’s most significant advances in public health.3

Raw and Finished Drinking Water

About two-thirds of Americans served by community drinking water systems obtain their raw (i.e., untreated) water from surface water sources, such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs.4 The remaining third are served by municipal groundwater systems using wells, while some systems use both sources. In addition to source water protection, transforming raw surface water or groundwater into … READ MORE >>

Zika Virus: What Can We Expect this Summer?

Mosquito repellent can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes that carry Zika virus; infants younger than two months can be protected with mosquito netting.

Mosquito repellent can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes that carry Zika virus; infants younger than two months can be protected with mosquito netting.

As summertime approaches and vulnerable areas of the US warm up, concerns over the potential spread of Zika virus are on the rise. The virus is spread mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, but also can be transmitted sexually. Zika virus is associated with birth defects (microcephaly) in infants of infected mothers and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an immune system disorder.

Last summer, several regions of the US were identified as possible sites of Zika virus outbreaks based on modeling studies1 and well-publicized outbreaks in Brazil and other areas of Latin America. Although there have been over 5,000 travel-related cases reported2 in the US since 2015, local transmission of the virus in the continental US occurred in just 224 … READ MORE >>

Avoiding Crypto at the Pool this Summer

This summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health departments across the country will strive to keep an unwanted parasite out of America’s pools, hot tubs and water parks. The microscopic organism, “Crypto,” short for Cryptosporidium, causes diarrhea and spreads through recreational water via the fecal-to-oral route. Yes, that’s a revolting image, but an awareness of how Crypto spreads can go a long way toward preventing outbreaks that can put a serious dent in your summer fun.  Crypto is not present in every pool, but according to CDC data, the number of US Crypto outbreaks in aquatic venues doubled between 2014 and 2016.

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Superbugs and Sewage at the Beach

We seem to be reading and writing a lot about superbugs—antibiotic resistant bacteria that are responsible for at least 2 million infections (including healthcare-associated infections acquired while receiving medical treatment in a hospital) and 23,000 deaths each year in the US.1 But the recent discovery of the “superbug enzyme” NDM2 in bathing seawaters in Ireland impacted by untreated sewage/wastewater3 brings this global public health issue even closer to home. After all, unless you work in the healthcare field, most of us avoid hospitals but go out of our way to spend a day at the beach!

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Survey: 1 in 4 Adults Would Swim with Diarrhea

Diarrheal outbreaks linked to swimming are a persistent challenge for aquatic venues

Crypto-Editorial-Cartoon

Americans will soon head to the pool as Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the swimming season, but a new survey reveals that there may be more in the pool than just water.

The survey, conducted on behalf of the Water Quality and Health Council, found that 1 in 4 adults (25 percent) would swim within one hour of having diarrhea, half of adults (52 percent) seldom or never shower before swimming in a pool, and that 3 in 5 adults (60 percent) admit to swallowing pool water while swimming.

These results are concerning to experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Water Quality and Health Council, and the National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®), given that waterborne outbreaks of diarrheal disease caused by the germ Cryptosporidium (or … READ MORE >>

A New Resource to Help Curtail Norovirus: Pictogram Disinfection Posters

Norovirus, the dreaded illness popularly known as the “stomach bug,” is the leading cause of gastrointestinal upset in the US. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 19 to 21 million cases of norovirus in the US annually. The highly contagious virus is an unwelcome visitor in schools, day care and elder care settings, offices, sporting venues, cruise ships and more. norovirus prevention poster norovirus cleanup posterNorovirus presents the greatest health risk to young children and the elderly. Globally, the economic burden of norovirus hovers around $60 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

The Perfect Pathogen

As described by CDC’s Dr. Aron J. Hall in an “Editor’s Choice” article in The Journal of Infectious Diseases in May, 2012, norovirus may be the “Perfect Pathogen,” because, among other factors, it:

  • Is quickly and profusely shed through diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Only requires a minimum of about 18 viral particles
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Out of the Jungle: Yellow Fever on the Rise

Brown Howler Monkey According to a recent Science Daily report, thousands of brown howler monkeys in a forest in southeastern Brazil have died of yellow fever.

Brown Howler Monkey
According to a recent Science Daily report, thousands of brown howler monkeys in a forest in southeastern Brazil have died of yellow fever.

Yellow fever, a deadly scourge transmitted by mosquitoes that has impacted the course of human history time and time again, is on the rise in Latin America. The first yellow fever death in Brazil in 17 years occurred in January 2017, when a young person who worked in the jungle succumbed to the disease. A recent Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) “Situation summary in the Americas” reported that since the current outbreak began in Brazil in December 2016, there have been over 1,400 confirmed or suspected cases and at least 234 deaths in six states of that country. Suspected and confirmed yellow fever cases have also been reported in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Suriname.

Yellow fever is indigenous to some … READ MORE >>

Color-coded Tips for Treating Algae in the Swimming Pool

Algae Swimming PoolAlgae in the swimming pool is an unwelcome sight, but one that usually can be dealt with effectively. The following “color-coded” tips can help you or your pool service professional identify and eliminate, or at least control, the most common types of algae. It is important to follow manufacturers’ directions for using and storing all pool chemicals.

Green Algae

Green algae usually appears when pool sanitizer levels are low or water circulation is poor; green algae turns pool water cloudy and murky. It is the easiest type of algae to remediate, but left unaddressed, green algae can worsen to the point of obscuring the floor and steps of the pool and potentially even a struggling bather, raising the drowning risk. Eradicate green algae by raising the chlorine level or adding an algaecide. Following treatment, it is important to run the filtration system continuously to clear the water by trapping the READ MORE >>

Sticker Shock and the Nation’s Drinking Water Infrastructure Challenges

WaterMainBreak

Water main break
Photo credit: EPA.gov

Over five years have passed since I wrote a 2-part series of articles titled “Pain at the Pipe.” Part 1 focused on why the US should respond to systemic drinking water infrastructure needs, while Part 2 addressed the consequences of failing to address those needs. Since then, drinking water infrastructure-related needs, as well as public health failures like Flint, Michigan, continue to make the news nationally and regionally, and have been highlighted in recent WQ&HC perspectives. In this article, I would like to focus on recent estimates of the magnitude and cost of the problem, and share some ideas regarding the need to establish realistic priorities, keeping in mind the axiom: If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

Size of the Problem

There are over 150,000 active public drinking water systems in the US that collectively deliver treated water … READ MORE >>

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