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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Impacts of Pathogens on Water Quality. In: Workshop Report: Pathogens in the Environment

Authors
item Thurston Enriquez, Jeanette
item Moorman, Thomas

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 10, 2004
Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Citation: Thurston-Enriquez, J., Moorman, T. 2004. Impacts of pathogens on water quality. In: Workshop Report: Pathogens in the Environment, February 23-25, 2004, Kansas City, MO. p. 39-43.

Interpretive Summary: Water serves as a passive carrier for the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms. Human and animal populations may be exposed to these pathogens through direct contact with, ingestion or inhalation of contaminated water. Enteric pathogens are an important group of microorganisms relating to drinking and recreational waterborne diseases in the United States. They are excreted in high numbers in the feces and have traits that allow their survival and successful transmission in the environment. These traits should be considered when making decisions regarding strategies for limiting their transmission by water. Improved methods for pathogen detection, better understanding of current water quality standards, and improved methods to evaluate public health risks of pathogens in water are needed.

Technical Abstract: Water serves as a passive carrier for the transmission of disease. Human and animal populations may be exposed to pathogens through direct contact with, ingestion or inhalation of contaminated water. Enteric pathogens are an important group of microorganisms relating to drinking and recreational waterborne diseases in the United States. They are excreted in high numbers in the feces and have traits that allow their survival and successful transmission in the environment. These traits should be considered when making decisions regarding strategies for limiting their transmission by water. Traditional indicator microorganisms are not useful for all pathogens and have resulted in misdiagnosis of the potability of water supplies. Alternative approaches for microbial water quality assessment are needed to ensure a safe water supply for recreation, irrigation, shellfish harvesting, and drinking. These approaches include 1) use of improved pathogen detection technologies; 2) use of source tracking and risk assessment to improve source water protection; and 3) improved understanding of the relationship between non-point source contamination of recreational water, water quality standards, and public health.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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