Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – June 8, 2001

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

June 8, 2001

Gates Foundation Provides Major Grant to Fight Meningitis in Africa

The global battle against meningitis gained a powerful ally last week. Under the direction of the World Health Organization and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide vaccine manufacturers with approximately $70 million over 10 years to test and distribute a vaccine against type A meningococcus, a strain of meningitis that regularly plagues Africa. The science to create this vaccine has existed for some time, yet the financial incentive to manufacture the vaccine does not exist. The Gates Foundation aims to protect Africans against this deadly scourge that leaves 10 percent of its victims dead and 25 percent of its survivors disabled.

For more information, visit or

CDC Reports on Recreational Water Illnesses and Pool Safety

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that swimming related illnesses rose over the past decade. Researchers determined that this increase was due in large part because many people were continuing to swim while sick. The CDC found that the pathogen most likely to contaminate pools was Giardia, a parasite that succumbs to chlorine after about an hour’s exposure. The CDC wrote that recreational water illnesses (RWIs) “are spread by accidentally swallowing pool water that has been contaminated… the great news is that germs casing RWIs are killed by chlorine.” However, the CDC cautioned that even the best maintained pools can spread illness, and that constant vigilance is necessary to promote healthy swimming.

For more information on pool safety and RWIs, visit

CDC Examines Prevention and Control of Norwalk-Like Viruses

The June 1st issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report “Recommendations and Reports” includes a report on the epidemiology and health consequences of gastrointestinal infections caused by food- and waterborne Norwalk-like viruses (NLV). The report notes that of the 348 outbreaks of NLV gastroenteritis reported to the CDC between January 1996 and November 2000, food was implicated in thirty-nine percent of the cases and water in three percent. According to the CDC, “If drinking or recreational water is suspected as being an outbreak source, high-level chlorination (i.e., 10 ppm or 10 mg/L for >30 minutes) might be required for adequate disinfection; however, even this method might be insufficient in certain cases.”

To read the article in its entirety, visit

EPA Filter Backwash Rule to be Published

The EPA reported that administrator Christine Todd Whitman signed the Final Rule on Filter Backwash Recycling on May 30. A notice will appear in a forthcoming Federal Register. This action is considered the first noteworthy Safe Drinking Water Act rule enacted under the Bush Administration. The rule requires water suppliers who recycle backwash or impure water to return these flows to the beginning of the treatment system. Under the rule, suppliers are granted 30 months to report their recycling practices to their state and three years to modify their systems in order to meet the new standards.

For more information on this legislation, visit

Special Note: Food Safety Posters Now Available For Use in Chinese Restaurants

In 1998, the Water Quality & Health Council, in conjunction with the Chlorine Chemistry Council and the National Restaurant Association, produced a clear, colorful poster in both English and Spanish offering food surface sanitizing tips to restaurants and other food service establishments. Entitled “Good Food Starts With A Clean Kitchen,” the poster was distributed to public health officials and restaurants around the nation. Based on popular demand, the poster is now available in both Mandarin and Cantonese (the main Chinese dialects spoken in the United States) for distribution to Chinese restaurants in your communities.

If you are interested in receiving the poster, please send us a message through the following link:

In The News… is a bi-weekly, online service from the Water Quality & Health Council. The publication is updated every other Friday and can be viewed by logging onto To receive the publication via e-mail, please click here and enter your e-mail address to join our mailing list.

Subscribe to receive the weekly "Water Quality & Health Council Perspectives"