Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – July 22nd, 2005

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

July 22, 2005

First West Nile Cases of 2005 Reported

The first cases of the West Nile virus in 2005 have resulted in one death and 25 people becoming sick in 11 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nine of the 25 cases were categorized as the severe neuroinvasive form of West Nile while 15 cases were listed as West Nile fever. The specific type of one case was not yet determined.

West Nile virus is spread to humans by mosquitoes that have fed on the blood of infected birds. To date, Colorado leads the list with seven cases, followed by South Dakota with five and Arizona with three according to published reports. The one fatality occurred in Missouri. Additional states to have reported illnesses to the CDC include California, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio and Texas.

Approximately 20 percent of people who contract West Nile become ill from the virus, with 1 in 150 suffering from meningitis or encephalitis. Since it was first diagnosed in North America in 1999, roughly 17,000 Americans have fallen victim to the disease. In 2004, there were 2,539 cases and 100 deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.

To read more about West Nile virus activity in the U.S. from the CDC, please go to:
Media Investigation Finds Florida Pools Pose Health Danger

A recent investigation by the Orlando Sentinel into swimming pool inspections in Central Florida has revealed that at least one in eight pools in the region failed due to insufficient levels of chlorine. The newspaper’s conclusions are based on a check into 4,465 pool inspections this year. The reported findings were similar to the results from a five-state (including Florida), 22,131-pool investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2002.

Both studies found that the majority of swimming pool cleanliness violations occurred in public pools at Florida hotels, motels and apartment complexes.

The current investigation by the Orlando Sentinel found that poor training and lax maintenance regimens by those responsible for maintaining water quality in pools continues to be a major cause for unhealthy swimming pool water. This despite increased efforts by health authorities calling attention to the risks associated with waterborne illnesses in pools.

The 2002 study by the CDC revealed that one in four inspections found violations for inadequate pool operations training. It also revealed that children’s pools had the highest rate of chlorine violations, while municipal pools had the lowest rate.

As observed by the Sentinel report, many high usage public pools are especially vulnerable to waterborne viruses, requiring a heightened awareness of chlorine levels to kill common germs such as Giardia, Shigella and E. coli.

For a full reading of the Orlando Sentinel article, please go to: “Inspectors Often Find Problems with Pools”.

To view the Orlando Sentinel’s posting of the Healthy Pools “Sense”-able Swimming tips please go to: “Sense”-able Swimming Tips

FDA Issues Two Salmonella Alerts in July

This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two nationwide alerts identifying brands of orange juice and ice cream that may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. The FDA informed consumers not to drink unpasteurized orange juice marketed under various names by Orchid Island Juice Co. of Fort Pierce, Fla. after 15 cases of Salmonellosis were directly linked with consumption of the brand in Michigan, Ohio and Massachusetts in May and June.

Additionally on July 1st, the FDA warned that Cold Stone Creamery “cake batter” ice cream sold at stores across the country could be related to an outbreak of Salmonellosis cases in four states. Fourteen people in Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and Ohio reportedly fell ill after reportedly consuming “cake batter” ice cream at a Cold Stone Creamery retail outlet. Both outbreaks were associated with the Salmonella Typhimurium sereotype.

Organisms that contain Salmonella are the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., according to the CDC. The CDC’s FoodNet program reported that there were 14.7 cases of Salmonella infection per 100,000 people in 2004. Of the five most active strains, S Typhimurium, was the only one with a significant drop in the number of cases in 2004, the CDC found.

To read more from the CDC about Salmonella, please go to:
New York Health Agency Issues Hospital Legionnaires’ Prevention Guidelines

A second outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2005 has prompted New York health officials to urge hospitals to decontaminate their water supplies as a step toward preventing the spread of the infection. A new set of guidelines issued last week by the New York State Department of Health requires that hospitals detecting the presence of the bacteria to disinfect their water systems at least twice a year.

Last week, health officials in Westchester announced an outbreak of the disease had sickened nine people at the Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle. This follows another outbreak that took place in April where two of four patients who contracted the disease from a tainted water supply. The new guidelines stipulate that New York hospitals face fines of more than $2,000 if they fail to regularly disinfect their water supplies after an outbreak or fail to protect patients in transplant units.

Despite the fact that Legionella bacteria exists in drinking water almost everywhere, hospitals tend to have noticeable outbreaks because healthy people are better able to stave off infection. According to health officials, the majority of cases occurring outside of hospitals go largely unreported since symptoms of Legionnaires’ tend to resemble pneumonia.

To read more from the CDC about Legionnaires’ disease, please go to:

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