Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – October 10th, 2003

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

October 10, 2003

Kansas Reports Cryptosporidiosis Outbreak

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed a total of 110 cryptosporidiosis cases from a recent outbreak in northeast Kansas. Once the parasite is established in a community, local transmission may occur through person-to-person contact, swimming pools or other recreational waters, and ingestion of contaminated food. The state has no indication that the public water supplies in the impacted areas are affected. Swimming pools in the area that are still open have been hyperchlorinated to kill the parasite since common levels of chlorine in pools have limited effectiveness. Additionally, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has asked residents to take the following precautions to further prevent the spread of the disease:

· Wash hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom or before preparing food. · Wash hands after changing diapers or after caring for someone with diarrhea, even if you are wearing gloves. · Children with diarrhea should not attend day care. · Employees with diarrhea who work in day-care facilities should not report to work. Employees who work in food service who have diarrhea should be excluded from food preparation activities. · Do not swim when ill with diarrhea, or for two weeks following illness. · Do not swallow pool/lake/river water.

Additional information regarding the outbreak is available at:

Tap Water Found to Be as Safe as Home-Filtered Drinking Water

A recent study by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley found that home drinking water filters provide no additional protection from gastrointestinal illness caused by microorganisms sometimes found in tap water. The yearlong study determined that there was no significant reduction in symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps in households that treat water with ultraviolet light and microfiltration filtration devises compared with those who were given placebo devices. The study suggests that if tap water comes from a well-run municipal water utility and meets government treatment guidelines, the water treatment device does not add any health protection.

The study, which was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined microbial contamination in 1,200 healthy adults and children from 456 households in Davenport, Iowa. Since the local water treatment system is known as one of the best in the country, further tests need to be completed before the results are generalized to other utilities. Additionally, since only healthy people participated in the study, scientists were unable to determine if the filtration devices would benefit those with health concerns, including compromised immune systems.

More details about the study are available at:

World Water Monitoring Day is October 18

The second World Water Monitoring Day, created by America’s Clean Water Foundation, will take place on October 18, the 31st anniversary of the enactment of the Clean Water Act. Leading up to the day, from September 18 to October 18, people around the world can monitor the quality of their local watersheds and enter the results of their efforts into an international database. These volunteers will perform four key tests to measure dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity/clarity and temperature. Test kits may be ordered through America’s Clean Water Foundation at This year, America’s Clean Water Foundation is working with the International Water Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal partners, state and interstate agencies, and watershed organizations.

More information about World Water Monitoring Day and last year’s report are available at

EPA Awards AWWA Funding for Security Training

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded a $1 million grant to the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to expand its security and emergency response training programs for community small water systems that serve populations of 3,300 to 50,000 people. AWWA’s five training programs include risk assessment training for small systems, emergency response planning training, crisis communications training, assembly of first responders, and security hardware education.

Additional information is available at: and

Cleaning for Mold After Hurricane Isabel

After Hurricane Isabel, homeowners in the Mid-Atlantic Region are cleaning up from the floodwaters. State health departments and the CDC have issued recommendations about the best way to clean and prevent mold growth in homes.

The recommendations include:

* Before touching, moving or cleaning moldy or mildewed materials, they should be wet with a soapy solution from a spray bottle to prevent the mold from escaping into the air.
* Both flooring and walls need to be examined carefully, completely dried out and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
* Carpet and padding should be disposed because it cannot be cleaned well enough to prevent mold and mildew from growing.
* Sub-flooring made of particleboard or plywood should be removed and replaced because it cannot be completely dried and disinfected.
* Walls, hard-surfaced floors, and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
* Heating and AC systems are hiding places for mold so interior components need to be inspected, cleaned and decontaminated by professionals.
* Air registers (vents) and diffusers should be removed, cleaned, disinfected and reinstalled.
* Clothing and linens may be salvaged by washing with chlorine bleach and detergent, or sent to commercial laundries or dry cleaners.
* Upholstered furniture, mattresses, and furniture made of particleboard or wafer board should be thrown away.

Personal property and furnishings that are moist or wet 24 hours after floodwater recedes likely will have mold growing in or on them. Cleaning for mold after a flood is important because mold releases tiny particles into the air that can cause allergic reactions (coughing, sneezing, eye irritation), asthma symptoms, or other respiratory illness that can be serious. Some molds may also produce toxins that could cause other illnesses. The risk is greatest for people with allergies or asthma, and for the very old or very young.

Additional cleaning recommendations are available at: and

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