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In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

January 11, 2008
UNICEF Hails Start of International Year of Sanitation

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) welcomed the official start of the International Year of Sanitation last week which draws attention to the 2.6 BILLION people around the world - including 980 million children - who do not have access to proper sanitation facilities.

According to remarks made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the official launch in November, "International efforts to deliver on this basic right have proved lackluster with an estimated 42,000 people dying every week from diseases related to low water quality and an absence of adequate sanitation." The Secretary-General also noted that " for every dollar spent on improving sanitation it is estimated that at least nine dollars are saved in costs related to health, education, and social and economic development ."

The International Year was established by the General Assembly to speed up progress towards achieving a Millennium Development Goal - ensuring environmental sustainability - which includes halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Sanitation will be improved by promoting clean, safe toilets; wastewater management; and hygiene promotion . The International Year will include major regional conferences on sanitation, including one focusing on school sanitation. It will also encourage public and private partnerships to bring real changes for the billions who bear the brunt of the crisis.

For more information, please visit:
International Year of Sanitation 2008

Pool Disease May Be Back in 2008

Public health officials in Utah are concerned that Cryptosporidium , a parasite which affected a record number of the state's residents in 2007, may again pose a problem in 2008. The parasite - which usually makes its way into the body after someone ingests contaminated water - can cause severe diarrhea and poses greatest risks to children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

On average, Utah sees about 14 cases Cryptosporidiosis per year. In 2007 an outbreak at public swimming pools led to nearly 2,000 reported cases throughout the state . As a result of the outbreak, various restrictions were imposed on swimmers including: banning children under 5 years old from public swimming pools, instituting hyperchlorination of pools by pool operators and early pool closings. The restrictions were lifted in November, but health officials will continue to monitor cases throughout 2008 and note these restrictions could again be imposed if the numbers are found to climb.

The Utah Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health departments are working on steps to preventing a recurrence of 2007's outbreak and expect to have a set of guidelines available in early 2008 .

For more information, please visit:
Pool Disease May Be Back in 2008

Norovirus Outbreak in Washington, D.C. School Spread by Computer Equipment

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported on a norovirus outbreak at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. The February 8, 2007 outbreak sickened at least 27 students and two staff members. According to the report, the outbreak was the result of non-cleaned computer equipment, such as keyboards and mice, and person-to-person contact.

Norovirus causes the majority of acute gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States and can be transmitted by person-to-person, contaminated food and water and infected environmental surfaces . Laboratory studies have demonstrated that fingers contaminated with norovirus can transfer the virus to environmental surfaces, which can subsequently contaminate clean fingers. Additionally, a surrogate marker for norovirus, feline calicivirus, has been shown to persist on computer mice and keyboards for 8 to 48 hours . In the case of the Washington, D.C., outbreak it was determined that shared computer use by students and teachers in a classroom, and the subsequent interaction with others outside the room, contributed to the illness outbreak.

According to the CDC, this is the first report of norovirus detected on a computer mouse and keyboard , which highlights the possible role of computer equipment in disease transmission and the difficulty in identifying and properly disinfecting all possible environmental sources of norovirus during outbreaks. Soiled surfaces are best disinfected by using a solution of 1:50 to 1:10 concentration of household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in water and vigorously wiping for more than 10 seconds. While this solution can corrode some surfaces, laptop computer keyboards have been shown to withstand greater than 300 disinfections with 80 ppm bleach solution without visible deterioration."

For more information, please visit:
Norovirus Outbreak in Washington, D.C. School

Study Reports Filtration Reduces Cryptosporidiosis

In a new study published in the January 2008 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Emerging Infectious Diseases journal filtration added to a public water supply can substantially reduce the number of confirmed cryptosporidiosis cases . Researchers in the United Kingdom studied the association between the consumption of unfiltered water from Loch Lomond, Scotland, and cryptosporidiosis from 1993 to 2003. Prior to November 1999, the Loch Lomond water had only been micro-strained and disinfected with chlorine, and was suspected to be the cause of several outbreaks in central Scotland. Since that time, additional treatment options have been implanted including coagulation and rapid gravity filtration.

Researchers determined risk factors, including those associated with drinking water, for cryptosporidiosis, and analyzed data on laboratory-confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis collected from 1997 through 2003. They identified an association between the incidence of cryptosporidiosis and unfiltered drinking water supplied to the home during that timeframe. The study concluded that the proportion of cases occurring in the Loch Lomond area have significantly decreased after 1999 stating "adding a filtration system to minimally treated water can substantially reduce the number of confirm cryptosporidiosis cases."

For more information, please visit:
Study Reports Filtration Reduces Cryptosporidiosis

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 www.waterandhealth.org .  To receive the publication via e-mail, please click here and enter your e-mail address to join our mailing list.

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