Recent Trends in Waterborne Disease Outbreaks in the US

When waterborne outbreaks occur, US local and state health departments are obliged to report them to “WBDOSS,” the national Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System.1 Since 1985, outbreak data have been compiled and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”2 (MMWR).


What Happened to Toledo’s Drinking Water: Understanding Microcystins

This summer, 500,000 residents in and around Toledo, Ohio were alerted that their tap water had been declared undrinkable as a result of microcystin contamination.  For several days, residents could not shower or cook with their tap water and they were instructed to drink bottled water while some restaurants, schools and businesses closed, inconveniencing many. 


Addressing Legionella: Public Health Enemy #1 in US Water Systems

The United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, thanks to the steadfast efforts of thousands of water treatment professionals. The men and women of the water treatment industry implement technologies 24/7 that protect us from former waterborne killers like typhoid fever, cholera and hepatitis A. With those enemies held at bay, what, you may ask, is the greatest microbial threat lurking in US tap water today? The answer is the bacterium Legionella, public health enemy #1 in US water systems, posing a particular risk to hospital patients. Controlling Legionella will take some novel approaches and regulatory adjustments.


CNN Highlights the Water Crisis in Haiti

A sixteen year old girl in Miami wakes up on a normal day, showers, dresses, eats breakfast, and is off to school, filled with thoughts of friends and classes. Seven hundred miles away in Haiti, sixteen year old Vidjinia Methelus begins her day at dawn with a 30 minute walk to an irrigation stream where


Milwaukee, 1993: The Largest Documented Waterborne Disease Outbreak in US History

An Interview with Dr. Stephen Gradus, Ph.D., MT(ASCP), D(ABMM), City of Milwaukee Health Department. Waterborne disease outbreaks are relatively rare events in our time, but just over two decades ago, Milwaukee experienced the largest documented drinking water outbreak in US history. Caused by the chlorine-resistant parasite Cryptosporidium parvum,the outbreak affected over 400,000 people—25 percent of


Remember the Alamosa (Outbreak)!

“Remember the Alamo!” was the battle cry of Texans avenging the deaths in 1836 of nearly 200 of their own at the hands of the Mexican Army at the Alamo, a small mission chapel in San Antonio.  One hundred seventy-two years later in Alamosa, Colorado—a place with a similar name—a different sort of battle was


Cholera: Overcoming the Symptoms and the Disease

Global cholera is as much a symptom of a failure of the global community as it is a disease of the developing world. That is the opinion of a trio of public health physicians writing in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, January 9, 2013, “The Cure for Cholera – Improving Access to Safe


Naegleria Risk May Rise When Water Supplies are Underchlorinated

A new outbreak of the brain-attacking amoeba Naegleria fowleri claimed the lives of ten victims in Karachi, Pakistan this year, according to an October 10 CNN report. Tests of the city’s water supply found either no chlorine or insufficient chlorine levels in 22 percent (198 of 900) of samples taken around Karachi. Officials linked the


In Haiti and Pakistan, the Ground and Water are Stagnant but the Waterborne Diseases are on a Rampage?

World Water Week just ended and, this year, Mother Nature is proving to be one of the most powerful obstacles to clean water. This year, two natural disasters have resulted in two human tragedies a half a world apart. The origin of one disaster was in the ground; the other in the sky. But the distressing


E. coli outbreak in Missouri drinking water

At least 15 people in Jackson, Missouri have been infected with E. coli bacteria after drinking water at a local fitness center. E. coli is a strain of the bacteria that causes infections in an estimated 70,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Public Health officials from Cape Girardeau County tested a drinking fountain and a