Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – September 12th, 2003

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

September 12, 2003

Cruise Cut Short Due to Virus Outbreak

The Regal Princess cruise ship cut its 15-day voyage short after approximately 20 percent of its passengers fell sick with the norovirus. The ship docked in New York and was met by a vessel sanitation team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC said that 301 of 1,557 passengers and 45 of the 687-member crew came down with the gastrointestinal illness. Passengers were instructed to wash their hands, avoid touching their mouths and report to the medical center if they felt sick to help contain the virus. Noroviruses symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and some stomach cramping. The illness begins suddenly but is usually brief.

Princess Cruises flew two senior health officers and an extra disinfection team to the ship to help contain the virus. The Vessel Sanitation Program team from the CDC will monitor the vessel on a daily basis throughout the next cruise to ensure that the disinfection was effective.

More information regarding the Vessel Sanitation Program is available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/default.htm

EPA’s Multiyear Drinking Water Research Plan Outlines Water Research Goals

The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 directs EPA to conduct research to strengthen the scientific foundation for standards that limit public exposure to drinking water contaminants. The Amendments contain specific requirements for research on waterborne pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium and Norwalk virus; disinfection byproducts; arsenic; and other harmful substances in drinking water. EPA is also directed to conduct studies to identify and characterize population groups, such as children, that may be at greater risk from exposure to contaminants in drinking water than is the general population.

EPA’s multi-year plan for drinking water research establishes three long-term goals. Within the scope of this multiyear plan, EPA will:

1. By 2010, develop scientifically sound data and approaches to assess and manage risks to human health posed by exposure to regulated waterborne pathogens and chemicals, including those addressed by the Arsenic, M/DBP, and Six-Year Review Rules.

2. By 2010, develop new data, innovative tools and improved technologies to support decision-making by the Office of Water on the Contaminant Candidate List and other regulatory issues, and implementation of rules by States, local authorities and water utilities.

3. By 2009, provide data, tools and technologies to support management decisions by the Office of Water, state, local authorities and utilities to protect source water and the quality of water in the distribution system.

The complete drinking water research program multi-year plan is available at:
http://www.epa.gov/osp/myp/dw.pdf ( PDF)


Water Pollution, Terrorism and Disease Seminar for Medical and Public Health Practitioners

On October 11, 2003, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) will sponsor a seminar to help medical and public health practitioners evaluate water-related diseases resulting from contaminated drinking water, polluted recreational waters and intentional acts of waterborne terrorism. The seminar will be at the State-of-the-Art Conference (SOTAC 2003) in Toronto, Canada.

The course will address the special needs of people who are at increased risk from waterborne disease, the problems associated with waterborne disease in hospital settings and the increased vigilance that businesses need to ensure the safety of water used in their products and facilities. Participants will review “Recognizing Waterborne Disease and the Health Effects of Water Pollution: A Physician On-Line Reference Guide,” available at www.waterhealthconnection.org. They will also participate in a “hands on” exercise that addresses how to recognize and manage an intentional water contamination terrorist event.

Detailed conference and registration information is available at:
http://www.acoem.org/education/course.asp?EVENT_ID=382

New SARS Case Identified in Singapore

A patient in Singapore tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, according to Singapore health officials. Officials stated that it appears to be a single isolated case.

It remains a mystery how the patient, a 27-year-old laboratory technician working on the West Nile virus, contracted SARS. The patient has been isolated and people who have come in contact with the patient have been issued home quarantine orders.

Singapore’s last reported SARS case occurred in early May. Earlier this year in Singapore, 33 people died and 328 people fell ill due to SARS.

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