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Waterborne Diseases and Public Health Risks

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Since the latest disasters Tsunami and Katrina the concern for waterborne diseases seems to be a concern for not only the public, but a national public health concern. The CDC reported that since 1971, the CDC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have jointing decided to hold a surveillance program where periodic reporting and data collection of outbreaks is carried out. Between 1991-1992, 17 states and territories reported 34 outbreaks associated with water intended for drinking. The outbreaks caused an estimated 17,464 persons to become ill. A protozoal parasite (Giardia lamblia or Cryptosporidium) was identified as the etiologic agent for seven of the 11 outbreaks for which an agent was determined (MMWR,1993).

In an public health article, titled Well-Water Maintenance, it is reported that Campylobacter, Escherichia and Cryptosporidum were common pathogens transmitted in water (Weir, 2005). It stated that in most jurisdiction private water sources (wells) are not protected by drinking water regulations. Water testing is recommended, but not necessary not mandatory. Many wells or private water source tap into ground water- ground water comes from rain and melting snow. Wells must be dug deep enough to remain in the saturated zone- the deeper the well the better the groundwater. There is no standardized mandate or regulation as to the distance a well must be from other possible contaminating sources such as skeptic tanks, live stock yards, etc..
There are six steps to safe Well-water; identify potential problem sources, talk with local experts, get water tested periodically, set regular maintenance schedule and keep up-to-date records and remedy any problems (Weir, 2005). Overall most waterborne disease are associated with recreational use- with hot-tub and whirl pool being the two highest reported activities (MMWR, 1993).

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(1) As most waterborne illnesses are associated with private hot tub and whirlpool use, how could regulations help reduce the number of cases?
(2) How are problems with microorganism contamination ...

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