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CDC: U.S. Drinking Water Sanitation Still a Concern

More than 1,000 sickened via drinking water-associated outbreaks in recent years

THURSDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Sanitation and water management in the United States has improved, but potentially preventable outbreaks of drinking water-associated disease, sometimes fatal, still occur, according to a report published in the Sept. 6 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Elizabeth D. Hilborn, D.V.M., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System to estimate the prevalence of drinking water-associated waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States.

The researchers found that there were 33 drinking water-associated outbreaks reported from 2009 to 2010, the most recent years for which finalized information is available. These outbreaks consisted of 1,040 illnesses that resulted in 85 hospitalizations and nine deaths. The deaths were all associated with Legionella, which was responsible for 58 percent of the outbreaks and 96 percent of the hospitalizations.

"The most commonly identified outbreak deficiencies in drinking water-associated outbreaks were Legionella in plumbing systems (57.6 percent), untreated ground water (24.2 percent), and distribution system deficiencies (12.1 percent), suggesting that efforts to identify and correct these deficiencies could prevent many outbreaks and illnesses associated with drinking water," the authors write.

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