Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – October 29th, 2004

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

October 29 , 2004

CDC Announces Drinking Water Protection Funding Program

Financial grants to help state health departments improve their environmental health service programs relating to foodborne and waterborne illness and disease outbreaks are now available through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The grant announcement expands the Environmental Health Service Network (EHS-Net), a component of CDC’s Emerging Infections Program’s “FoodNet” project, to an independent program that includes drinking water safety for private and small systems not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EHS-net establishes a network of environmental health specialists who collaborate with epidemiologists and health science researchers to identify and prevent those environmental factors that can contribute to foodborne and waterborne illness and disease outbreaks.

EHS-Net’s goals include monitoring risk factors and prevention policies in foodborne and waterborne outbreaks, conducting human health and environmental research assessing factors that contribute to disease transmission, and implementing, evaluating and reporting the results of food safety and drinking water safety service programs and intervention projects.

To read the complete grant announcement in the Federal Register, please go to:
CDC EHS-Net Federal Registry document

WHO Launches Website for Household Water Treatment Network

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new website designed to promote greater access for those without safe drinking water. The website, “The International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage,” was developed to encourage collective, bilateral and individual action from key stakeholders in the water safety and security community.

The Network’s mission is to achieve a significant reduction in waterborne disease, specifically among vulnerable populations, by promoting household water treatment and safe storage as essential component of water, sanitation and hygiene programs. Working with communities to implement effective, affordable and sustainable interventions, the website will include the collection of research that analyzes and disseminates waterborne disease data regarding efficacy, cost-effectiveness, health impact, acceptability, affordability, scalability and sustainability.

The Network was developed as a result of a February 2003 meeting in Geneva, where WHO stakeholders discussed ways to increase issue collaboration and promote solutions to increase access to safe drinking water.

For more information about the Household Water Treatment Network, please go to:
http://www.who.int/household_water/en/

CDC Releases Waterborne-Disease Outbreak Surveillance Results

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its latest results from surveillance of waterborne-disease outbreaks (WBDOs) associated with both recreational water and drinking water.

The findings, based on data from 2001-2002, show that a total of 65 outbreaks in 23 states were linked to recreational water, while 31 outbreaks in 19 states were related to drinking water. The reported 65 recreational water WBDOs were responsible for illness in an estimated 2,536 people with 61 individuals hospitalized and eight fatalities. Drinking water related WBDOs were reported to be responsible for illness in approximately 1,020, including seven deaths. Of the drinking water outbreaks, the microbe or chemical that caused the outbreak was identified for 24 of the 31 outbreaks, 19 of which were associated with pathogens, including norovirus and non-Legionella bacteria.

To read the complete CDC surveillance reports, please go to:
CDC Surveillance for Waterborne-Disease Outbreaks – Recreational Water
CDC Surveillance for Waterborne-Disease Outbreaks – Drinking Water

Fresh Produce the Target of New FDA Food Safety Plan

Seeking to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses associated with fresh produce, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used the occasion of a workshop at the Produce Marketing Association’s convention earlier this month to unveil the “2004 Produce Safety Action Plan.” The plan targets retail store and consumer audiences in addition to previously targeted growers and shippers.

Developed to broaden the effects of current safety guidelines, the 2004 Produce Safety Action Plan includes new restaurant guidelines, increased surveillance of fresh produce and a heightened effort to educate produce handlers about safe public health practices, FDA officials said.

At least 12 percent of the illnesses linked to foodborne disease were attributed to fresh produce during the 1990’s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Five thousand people die annually from food-borne illness, while 325,000 are hospitalized. In total, 76 million reportedly became sick in 2003 from pathogens related to food safety issues.

Safety science surrounding pathogens has evolved since 1998 when the FDA initiated a plan for fresh produce safety that mainly addressed growers and shippers. Traditional efforts to increase public health safety centered on the agricultural industry, where produce is subject to a variety of contaminants including agricultural water quality, manure as fertilizer and the health and hygiene of workers handling food. The new FDA effort goes beyond established efforts, expanding prevention awareness activities to include food safety measures employed by retail stores and consumers.

To read more about the FDA’s 2004 Produce Safety Action Plan, please go to:
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/prodpla2.html

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