Hydration hype: Fancy bottled drinking water is nonsense, just drink tap

My friend Tim Caulfield, a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta, author of “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty & Happiness” (Beacon, 2015) and host of “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death” on Netflix (that’s a long bio) writes for NBC News, humans need water but the marketing of water as a detoxifying, energizing, health-enhancing, miracle beverage has become a lucrative business. Over the past few years the booming wellness industry (aka Big Wellness) has coopted this most basic of biological needs to sell products and promises of miraculous improved health. But is there any evidence to support the hydration hype?

Before I dump on the water business, let’s give a nod to the positives. There is growing recognition that sugary beverages are not a good choice, nutrition wise. Evidence suggests that consumption of sugary beverages, especially soft drinks, is associated with a range of health issues, including obesity and heart disease. As a result, there is a broad consensus among nutrition and public health experts about the value of limiting the consumption of these calorie-dense and relatively nutrition-free beverages.

So, in this context, the shift to water is a very good thing. But that doesn’t mean we have to buy what the “premium” water market is selling.

But before we get to the fancy packaging, we need to talk about volume. Do you actually need to drink eight glasses of water a day? In a word: Nope.

This strange and incredibly durable myth seems to have emerged from a misinterpretation of a 1945 US Food and Nutrition Board recommendation. That document suggested a “suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 litres daily” (i.e., roughly eight glasses a day). But what is almost always overlooked is that the recommendation — which was not based on a robust body of research — also noted “[m]ost of this quantity is in prepared foods.” In other words, you already get the bulk of your needed water from the food you eat.

In reality, there is no magical amount of water. We do need to stay appropriately hydrated, of course. And as our climate and activities change, so does the amount of water we lose through sweating etc. But our bodies are good at telling us how much and when we should drink. (Thanks, evolution.) And all liquids — coffee, tea, that weird fluid inside hotdogs — count toward your daily consumption of water. My body can’t tell if an H20 molecule came from a fresh-water spring on the side of a remote Himalayan mountain or from a cup of gas station java (which isn’t, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, dehydrating).

But even if water is found in a lot of foods and beverages, pure bottled water is still better for us, right? Wrong again.

Yes, drinking plain water is almost always a better choice than some other, sugar-infused, beverage. But the water you drink doesn’t need to come out of a plastic, glass, or 24-karat gold (yes, that is a thing) bottle.

The twisted logic behind wellness gadgets like Fitbit isn’t making us healthier

Studies have shown that some people believe bottled water is healthier than tap water. That perception is wrong. In fact, tap water in the U.S. and Canada is almost always the best, cheapest and most environmentally friendly choice. Bottled water can be essential during emergencies that disrupt the supply of clean water. And there have been scary examples of contaminated public water — the Flint, Michigan water crisis being only one recent example.

We also need to be vigilant to ensure our public water supply remains clean. But in most places in the United States and Canada, tap water is tightly regulated and safe. Not only that, but tap water can have less contaminants than bottled waterA study from Canada, for example, found that 70 percent of the tested bottled water brands contained high levels of bacteria and generally had more bacteria than tap water. A 2019 Consumer Report investigation concluded “that in some cases bottled water on store shelves contains more potentially harmful arsenic than tap water.”

But bottled water tastes better, you say! Actually, blind taste tests have consistently found that to be untrue too. To cite just one example, only one-third of the participants in a Boston University study, were able to correctly identify tap water. One third thought it was bottled water and one third couldn’t tell the difference.

But bottled water tastes better, you say! Actually, blind taste tests have consistently found that to be untrue too.

And now we get to what is probably the biggest scam. Wellness wonks have been pushing absurd diets, supplements and potions for decades. Now that same thinking has come to water, with alkaline, hydrogen, gluten and GMO-free water brands hitting the supermarket and health food store shelves near you.

Nope, nope and — sigh — nope.

Alkaline water is part of the larger multimillion-dollar alkaline diet fad embraced by celebrities like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Proponents claim that humans can become too acidic and, as such, we need to consume foods and beverages that will lower the pH of our bodies. By doing so, we will improve our health and reduce the incidence of disease and cancer, the theory goes.

Problem one: There is little evidence to support the entire premise that adjusting the pH of your food will have an impact on our health. And the studies that have explored the claim have found little benefit to this dietary approach, outside of the diet’s push to eat more fruits and vegetables. (Eating more fruits and vegetables is of course good for you hand can help you stay healthier for longer.)

Problem two: You can’t change the pH of your body through food and beverages. So the entire premise is scientifically absurd. Your body tightly regulated the pH of your blood. It doesn’t need the help of overpriced bottled water.

 

Ripple: Arizona scientists to examine food safety practices after E. coli outbreak

In the spring of 2018, an E. coli O157 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona area resulted in 210 reported illnesses from 36 states, 96 hospitalizations, 27 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and five deaths.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched a new initiative with support from the Arizona Department of Agriculture, and in conjunction with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District (WMIDD), and members of the Yuma area leafy greens industry to better understand the ecology of human pathogens in the environment in the Yuma agricultural region. This initiative will be a multi-year study which will focus on how these pathogens survive, move and possibly contaminate produce prior to harvest. 

While the FDA, the Arizona Department of Agriculture and other state partners conducted an environmental assessment from June through August 2018 that narrowed the scope of the outbreak, the specific origin, the environmental distribution and the potential reservoirs of the outbreak strain remain unknown.

Between 2009 and 2017, FDA and partners at CDC identified 28 foodborne STEC outbreaks with known or suspected links to leafy greens. Like a lot of fresh produce, leafy greens are often eaten raw without a kill-step, such as cooking, that could eliminate pathogens that may be present.

Sounds like Yuma growers could use a Box of Rain. Or maybe more knowledge of the microbial ripple effect. May death be groovy for you, long-time Grateful Dead collaborator and lyricist Robert Hunter, who passed on Tuesday, aged 78.

We’re all hosts on a viral planet and vaccines still work: Hep A outbreaks related to drinking water

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that waterborne hepatitis A outbreaks have been reported to CDC. Person-to-person transmission of hepatitis A has increased in recent years.

Reported drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks have declined since introduction of universal childhood vaccination recommendations and public drinking water regulations. However, unvaccinated persons who use water from untreated private wells remain at risk.

Public health officials should raise awareness of risks associated with untreated ground water among users of private wells and of options for private well testing and treatment. Water testing and treatment are important considerations to protect persons who use these unregulated systems from HAV infection.

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is an RNA virus primarily transmitted via the fecal-oral route and, in rare cases, causes liver failure and death in infected persons. Although drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks in the United States are rarely reported (1), HAV was the most commonly reported etiology for outbreaks associated with untreated ground water during 1971–2008 (2), and HAV can remain infectious in water for months (3). This report analyzes drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks reported to the Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System (WBDOSS) during 1971–2017. During that period, 32 outbreaks resulting in 857 cases were reported, all before 2010. Untreated ground water was associated with 23 (72%) outbreaks, resulting in 585 (68.3%) reported cases. Reported outbreaks significantly decreased after introduction of Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) hepatitis A vaccination recommendations* and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) public ground water system regulations.† Individual water systems, which are not required to meet national drinking water standards,§ were the only contaminated drinking water systems to cause the last four reported hepatitis A outbreaks during 1995–2009. No waterborne outbreaks were reported during 2009–2017. Water testing and treatment are important considerations to protect persons who use these unregulated systems from HAV infection.

U.S. states and territories have voluntarily reported waterborne disease outbreaks to WBDOSS since 1971.¶ Waterborne hepatitis A outbreaks (1971–2017) reported as of March 13, 2018, were reviewed. An outbreak of hepatitis A was defined as two or more cases of HAV infection epidemiologically linked by time and location of water exposure. To compare occurrence with other waterborne exposure pathways, outbreaks reviewed included those caused by drinking, recreational, environmental (i.e., nondrinking, nonrecreational water), or undetermined water exposures.** As described previously (1), data reviewed included location; date of first illness; estimated number of primary cases, hospitalizations, and deaths; water system type according to USEPA Safe Drinking Water Act definitions (i.e., community, noncommunity, and individual); setting of exposure; drinking water sources (i.e., ground water, surface water, and unknown); and water system characteristics.†† Community and noncommunity water systems are public water systems that have 15 or more service connections or serve an average of 25 or more residents for ≥60 days per year.§§ A community water system serves year-round residents of a community, subdivision, or mobile home park. A noncommunity water system serves an institution, industry, camp, park, hotel, or business. Individual water systems are small systems (e.g., private wells and springs) not owned or operated by a water utility that have fewer than 15 connections or serve fewer than 25 persons. The number of outbreaks before and after public health interventions were compared; chi-squared tests were used to identify significant (p-value<0.05) differences. Data were analyzed using SAS software (version 9.4; SAS Institute) and visualized in ArcGIS (version 10.6.1; Environmental Systems Research Institute).

Thirty-two drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks were reported to CDC during 1971–2017; the last one occurred in 2009 (Table). These drinking water–associated outbreaks accounted for 857 cases (range = 2–50), with no reported deaths. Data on number of deaths were unavailable for three outbreaks. Data on hospitalizations were unavailable for all outbreaks. Outbreaks occurred in 18 states, all in the lower continental United States (Figure 1). One environmental outbreak (1975) and one recreational water outbreak (1989) were reported during this period, but were excluded from this analysis.

The most commonly reported water system type associated with an outbreak was individual, accounting for 13 of 32 (41%) outbreaks and 257 of 857 (30.0%) cases, followed by community (10 [31%] outbreaks; 241 [28.1%] cases) and noncommunity (9 [28%] outbreaks; 359 [41.9%] cases). All individual water systems with outbreaks were supplied by private wells or springs. The majority of all drinking water outbreaks and cases were associated with systems supplied by ground water (30 [94%] outbreaks; 804 [93.8%] cases) and with an absence of water treatment (23 [72%] outbreaks; 585 [68.3%] cases).

The incidence of reported drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks significantly decreased after introduction of the 1989 USEPA Total Coliform and Surface Water Treatment Rules (77% decline from 1971–1989 [24 outbreaks] to 1990–2017 [eight]; p = 0.003), the 1996 ACIP hepatitis A vaccination recommendations (87% decline from 1971–1996 [29] to 1997–2017 [three]; p<0.001), and the 2006 Ground Water Rule and expanded ACIP vaccine recommendations (78% decline from 1971–2006 [30] to 2007–2017 [two]; p = 0.038) (Figure 2). From 1995 through 2009, all four hepatitis A drinking water–associated outbreaks, resulting in 35 cases, were attributed to individual water systems using untreated ground water sources. No water-associated hepatitis A outbreaks have been reported since July 2009.

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Discussion

Reported drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks have declined since reporting began in 1971, and none have been reported since 2009, mirroring the overall decline in U.S. cases (4,5). Vaccination for hepatitis A, combined with USEPA regulations that require testing and, where necessary, corrective actions or treatment for drinking water supplies, likely played a role in reducing reported hepatitis A drinking water–associated outbreaks.

Vaccination efforts have led to significant changes in hepatitis A epidemiology (4,6,7). HAV infection rates in the United States have decreased since the introduction of hepatitis A vaccine in 1995 (4,5). Vaccine recommendations were originally targeted to children in communities with high rates of hepatitis A infections west of the Mississippi and other groups at risk (e.g., international travelers, men who have sex with men, illicit drug users, persons with clotting factor disorders, and persons with occupational risk). By 2006, routine hepatitis A vaccination was recommended for all children aged ≥l year regardless of geographic area of residence (5). Although vaccination was never recommended for users of individual ground water systems, this group likely benefited from the recommendations targeting children and other groups at risk. Incidence of HAV infection is now lowest among persons aged 0–19 years (4). However, the proportion of HAV-associated hospitalizations steadily increased during 1999–2011, likely because of more severe disease in older adults, with persons aged ≥80 years experiencing the highest rates of infection (6). The number of hepatitis A cases in the United States reported to CDC increased by 294% during 2016–2018, compared with the period 2013–2015 (8), primarily because of community-wide outbreaks in persons reporting homelessness or drug use (7). ACIP recommends vaccination to persons who use drugs and recently expanded recommendations to persons experiencing homelessness.¶¶

Reported drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks were most commonly linked to individual water systems that used wells with untreated ground water. Recreational and environmental outbreaks were only reported twice, suggesting that drinking water is a more common waterborne exposure pathway for hepatitis A. Nearly 43 million U.S. residents, or 13% of the population, are served by individual water systems, primarily from ground water sources (https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/cir1441external icon). Untreated ground water sources were associated with 30% of all drinking water–associated outbreaks reported to CDC during 1971–2008 (1). The USEPA Total Coliform and Surface Water Treatment Rules of 1989 and Ground Water Rule of 2006 provide enhanced safety measures for public water systems using ground water sources and might have contributed to the absence of reported hepatitis A outbreaks linked to community water sources since 1990. However, federal regulations do not apply to individual water systems, which often have inadequate or no water treatment (9). Private wells or springs were the only contaminated drinking water systems to cause the last four reported hepatitis A outbreaks during 1995–2009. CDC recommends that owners of private wells test their water annually for indicators of fecal contamination (https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/testing.html). Factors contributing to fecal contamination of ground water include nearby septic systems or sewage, weather patterns (e.g., heavy rainfall), improper well construction and maintenance, surface water seepage, and hydrogeologic formations (e.g., karst limestone) that allow for rapid pathogen transport (2,9).

The findings in this report are subject to at least three limitations. First, waterborne hepatitis A outbreak reporting is through a passive, voluntary surveillance system; health departments have varying capacity to detect, investigate, and report outbreaks, which might result in incomplete data on outbreak occurrence and characteristics within and across jurisdictions. Thus, outbreak surveillance data might underestimate the actual number of drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks and might underreport information regarding health outcomes such as cases of illness. Second, attributing the source of an outbreak to individual water systems can be particularly difficult because hepatitis A can also be spread through person-to-person transmission within a household. Finally, outbreak data before 2009 did not include case-specific information; thus, demographic factors, including age, could not be assessed.

Drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks have declined and essentially stopped, likely in large part because of the introduction of an efficacious vaccine as part of the routine childhood immunization program and microbial drinking water regulations for public water systems. The degree to which these interventions have contributed to the decline in outbreaks is uncertain. However, waterborne outbreak surveillance data is not yet finalized for 2018, and the recent increase in person-to-person transmission of hepatitis A (7,8) has the potential to cause a resurgence in waterborne outbreaks through increased fecal HAV contamination of private ground water supplies. Outbreak data suggest that individual water systems, primarily those systems drawing untreated ground water from wells, pose the highest risk for causing drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks. These systems are not regulated by USEPA; CDC recommends that owners evaluate their well water quality at least yearly. If indicators of fecal contamination are detected, remediation and treatment of private well water is recommended. Guidance on private well testing and treatment solutions for microbial contamination is provided by USEPA (https://www.epa.gov/privatewells/protect-your-homes-waterexternal icon) and CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/index.html). Although the current nationwide outbreak of hepatitis A is not water-associated, considering ground water as a possible transmission route is warranted during community-wide outbreaks of hepatitis A. Ground water can be contaminated with HAV during community transmission of hepatitis A, increasing the risk for persons using untreated water. Public health education about the risks associated with drinking untreated ground water from individual systems, as well as relevant safety measures (i.e., water testing, water treatment, and vaccination), is needed to prevent future drinking water–associated hepatitis A outbreaks.

US: Impact of public health interventions on drinking water-associated outbreaks of hepatitis A-United States, 1971-2017

6.sep.19

CDC

Catherine E. Barrett, Bryn J. Pape, et al

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6835a4.htm?s_cid=mm6835a4_e&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM8344

500 sick, 2 dead since 2011: FDA focusing on the papaya industry

Norman Sharpless and Frank Yiannas of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration write that fresh papayas are most often eaten raw, without cooking or processing to eliminate microbial hazards; and therefore, the way they are grown, harvested, packed, held, processed and distributed is crucial to minimizing the risk of contamination with human pathogens.

Since 2011, American consumers have been exposed to eight outbreaks caused by Salmonella serotypes linked to imported, fresh papaya. And, just this June we started an investigation into an outbreak of Salmonella Uganda illnesses tied to the consumption of whole, fresh papaya imported from Mexico. While the 2019 outbreak is ongoing, the first seven outbreaks accounted for almost 500 reported cases of illness, more than 100 hospitalizations, and two deaths.

This trend has to stop. The pattern of recurrent outbreaks we have observed since 2011, including the 2019 illnesses, have involved Salmonella infections traced back to, or are suspected of being associated with, papaya grown in Mexico. The recurring nature of these outbreaks is a clear indication that more must be done within all sectors of the papaya industry to protect its customers and to meet its legal obligations. This includes growers, importers and even retailers that can and must do more.

This is why today we have issued a letter calling on all sectors of the papaya industry to take actions to prevent these outbreaks in the future. We are urging growers, packers, shippers and retailers in the papaya industry to review their operations and make all necessary changes to strengthen public health safeguards.

Our letter calls on the papaya industry to assess the factors that make their crops vulnerable to contamination. If a foodborne pathogen is identified in the crop or growing environment, a root cause analysis should be performed to determine the likely source of contamination. Procedures and practices that minimize that contamination must be implemented.

We are strongly encouraging the papaya industry to examine the use and monitoring of water used to grow, spray (pesticides, fungicides), move, rinse or wax crops to identify and minimize risks from potential hazards. All sectors of the industry should adopt tools and practices needed to enhance traceability since papayas are a perishable commodity, to more rapidly facilitate the tracking of involved product to expedite its removal from commerce, prevent additional consumer exposures, and properly focus any recall actions.

And finally, they should fund and actively engage in food safety research to identify the potential sources and routes of contamination by microbial pathogens and develop data-driven and risk-based preventive controls.

In response to this most recent Salmonella Uganda outbreak, the FDA deployed an inspection team to the packing house and farm that was linked to the contaminated papayas via traceback and epidemiological evidence. The findings of those visits will be made public when their investigation is complete. We have also increased sampling and screening of papayas at the border. In addition, the FDA is actively collaborating with our counterparts in the Mexican government regarding this current outbreak through the agency’s Latin America Office to determine ways to further our collaborative prevention efforts.

The U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits food producers from introducing, or delivering for introduction, into interstate commerce adulterated foods (meaning foods that are potentially harmful to consumers). Additionally, there are new requirements under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The Produce Safety Rule under FSMA sets science- and risk-based minimum standards for domestic and foreign farms for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of covered produce, which includes papayas. Another FSMA rule, the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) makes importers responsible for verifying that the foods they bring into the U.S., including papayas, have been produced in a manner that meets applicable U.S. safety standards. 

I prefer mangoes.

Texas man ‘skinned like a deer’ by Vibrio that killed him slowly over two weeks after fishing trip

Mia De Graaf of the Daily Mail writes a 78-year-old Texas man died after an agonizing two-week battling against flesh-eating bacteria he contracted on a fishing trip last month.

Jerry Sebek, of San Marcos, did not get in the water, did not have any open wounds, and did not have any health issues that would weaken his immune system.

And yet, hours after returning from Turtle Bay on June 13, he became delirious, vomiting, and struggling to breathe.

His daughter Kim took him to a clinic, where doctors said it looked like heat stroke.

But the next morning, he was taken to hospital, where he tested positive for vibrio, an aggressive type of bacteria that eats away at muscle and tissue.

His right arm, where the infection started, was ‘skinned like a deer,’ Kim told SanAntonio.com.

Despite amputating his arm and leg, and putting him in a medically-induced coma, doctors could not defeat the infection.

‘I’m still a little shocked and in disbelief,’ Kim told the site. 

‘Dad was a wonderful family man who loved to hunt and fish and do things out in the water.’

She added: ‘We’ve been coming here [to Turtle Bay] for years and this is just an unfortunate thing that happened.’

Don’t swallow pool water: Cryptosporidiosis outbreaks – United States, 2009-2017

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that Cryptosporidium is the leading cause of outbreaks of diarrhea linked to water and the third leading cause of diarrhea associated with animal contact in the United States.

During 2009–2017, 444 cryptosporidiosis outbreaks, resulting in 7,465 cases were reported by 40 states and Puerto Rico. The number of reported outbreaks has increased an average of approximately 13% per year. Leading causes include swallowing contaminated water in pools or water playgrounds, contact with infected cattle, and contact with infected persons in child care settings.

What are the implications for public health practice?

To prevent cryptosporidiosis outbreaks, CDC recommends not swimming or attending child care if ill with diarrhea and recommends hand washing after contact with animals.

2 dead, 2,000 sick from campy in water in Norway

MRT reports that a  patient from a southern Norway island with contaminated water has died after being hospitalized with gastrointestinal symptoms, authorities said Thursday.

Erik Vigander of the regional hospital entity in southern Norway said the bacteria Campylobacter was found in the patient’s system. That’s the same bacteria identified in other people sickened since E. coli was found in a reservoir that supplied drinking water for the island of Askoey.

Vigander says the patient who died Wednesday also had “a very serious underlying” health disorder and an autopsy will be performed to determine “the ultimate cause of death.”

A 1-year-old child from the island died last week of an infection in the digestive tract, but it was not clear whether the death was linked to the water contamination.

About 2,000 people have fallen sick. Since June 6, 64 have been hospitalized.

Hospital tests have shown that Campylobacter was found in at least three dozen cases.

Local newspaper Askoeyvaeringen reported that there had been been safety issues with the waterworks in the Askoey municipality, and feces was recently found near a reservoir that supplied part of the area’s drinking water.

Missouri is a special place: Rent-A-Car Employee accused of spiking co-workers’ water with LSD

I did acid twice, in my teens.

It wasn’t good.

Mushrooms are a much better psychedelic, but I only did them once.,

I had a colleague in the early 1990s who would tell me when he retired, he would sit at a cottage with a couple of Marshall amps, his electric guitar and do a bunch of hallucinogens.

Not sure that worked out.

According to Tom Ozimek of The Epoch Times, authorities are investigating the case of an Enterprise Rent-A-Car employee accused of slipping LSD into his co-workers’ water bottles.

A 19-year-old man is in custody in connection with the incident, which allegedly took place at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in Arnold, Missouri, last Thursday, March 21, according to KMOV.

Arnold Police received a call from the Enterprise manager, who reported that two employees, a 24-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man, had both been hospitalized after they began to feel “weird and dizzy,” according to the Jefferson County Leader.

 Police say the man told them his coworkers at Enterprise Rent-A-Car had “negative energy,” and he wanted them to mellow out. So the 19-year-old put LSD in three people’s water bottles and coffee cups.

Messing around with people’s food or beverages is never OK.

From the duh files: How well do you understand irrigation water risk management?

Doug Grant of The Packer writes food safety outbreaks have a massive effect not only on growers, but on all stakeholders throughout the fresh produce supply chain. Irrigation water has been identified over the years as a likely cause of fresh produce contamination, so it’s critical that our industry fully understands the potential risk involved and how these risks are being managed by growers.The Center for Produce Safety has numerous research projects involving irrigation water. One 2015 project titled “Evaluation of risk-based water quality sampling strategies for the fresh produce industry,” led by PI Channah Rock, Ph.D., University of Arizona, concluded that “localized environmental conditions play a large role in water quality.”

Further, that “growers must get a better understanding of their water sources through collection of water quality data and historical analysis.” Another outcome from this project was developing a computer app to provide guidance on the frequency of sampling based on risk factors (e.g. after rainfall).

Several other CPS research projects focus on predictive models for irrigation water quality, exploring the relationship between product testing and risk, reuse of tail water and evaluating alternative irrigation water quality indicators.

Let me introduce Natalie Dyenson, head of food safety and quality assurance at Dole. As you can imagine, she has a huge responsibility covering several product lines (fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and packaged salads) sourced from hundreds of growers throughout the Americas and other countries. She’s been involved with CPS for several years and takes a keen interest in new research findings.

With leafy greens as her top priority, she is still very concerned about the three romaine lettuce outbreaks during 2018. With all Dole crops, water quality risk assessment and testing are very important. Dole reviews water source (wells, reservoir, canals, etc.) and type of irrigation (foliar spray, furrow irrigation, flooding farms).
All water sources including deep wells are tested monthly, and after weather events such as wind and frost. Enhanced testing of product is done prior to harvest depending on their environmental risk assessments — for example, after an excessive rain event where potential contaminated water run-off could be introduced to the field.

Natalie said, “there is a huge potential to leverage historical water quality test data to help mitigate risk.” She’s also very interested in predictive models and is looking forward to the results of a CPS research project starting in 2019, “Development of a model to predict the impact of sediments on microbial irrigation water quality,” led by Charles P. Gerba, Ph.D, from the University of Arizona.

Previous CPS research has shown that sediments at the bottom of waterways can harbor 10 to 10,000 more fecal bacteria than surface waters. This new project will investigate the conditions where pathogens could be re-suspended in surface water and will design sampling strategies to minimize contamination to crops.

While discussing sediment in irrigation canals Natalie mentioned that it’s been observed that some non-Dole farmers are still laying irrigation intake hoses directly on the bottom of water sources (canals, ponds, etc.). A simple solution is to use a flotation device positioned so that the hose end extracts water just below the surface where there are fewer potential contaminants. While not a complete remedy to eliminate all organic matter and pathogens in the water supply, it is a simple tool to help reduce risk.

39 sickened: Cow shit carries bugs: Campy outbreak in drinking water, Nebraska 2017

Jim still has nightmares.

It’s the helicopters.

We live near the publicly-funded Princess Alexandria hospital in Brisbane.

A helicopter flies over our house a couple of times a day bringing some victim from the outback or the coast.

The state of Queensland is really, really big.

It reminds me of my friend, Jim, and what he went through in the aftermath of the E.coli O157 outbreak in drinking water that killed seven and sickened 2,500 in the town of Walkerton, population 5,000.

Jim knew that every helicopter was someone dead or dying being flown to the medical center in London, Ontario (that’s in Canada, like Walkerton).

I think of Jim and the victims every time a chopper goes past.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports a center pivot irrigation system intended to pump livestock waste water onto adjacent farmland in Nebraska malfunctioned, allowing excessive run off to collect in a road ditch near two wells that fed a municipal water supply, sickening 39 persons who consumed untreated city water. The use of culture-independent diagnostic tests facilitated case identification allowing for rapid public health response.

Access to clean water sources continues to be an important public health issue, and public health professionals should consider exposure to untreated water sources as a potential cause for Campylobacter outbreaks.

In March 2017, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) and the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department were notified of an apparent cluster of Campylobacter jejuni infections in city A and initiated an investigation. Overall, 39 cases were investigated, including six confirmed and 33 probable. Untreated, unboiled city A tap water (i.e., well water) was the only exposure significantly associated with illness (odds ratio [OR] = 7.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.69–36.36). City A is served by four untreated wells and an interconnected distribution system. Onsite investigations identified that a center pivot irrigation system intended to pump livestock wastewater from a nearby concentrated animal feeding operation onto adjacent farmland had malfunctioned, allowing excessive runoff to collect in a road ditch near two wells that supplied water to the city. These wells were promptly removed from service, after which no subsequent cases occurred. This coordinated response rapidly identified an important risk to city A’s municipal water supply and provided the evidence needed to decommission the affected wells, with plans to build a new well to safely serve this community.

On March 10, 2017, NDHHS was notified of five reports of campylobacteriosis in the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department jurisdiction. Two positive culture reports and three positive culture-independent diagnostic tests, specifically a gastrointestinal polymerase chain reaction (PCR) panel, were received from persons not living together. Campylobacteriosis is a reportable condition in Nebraska, and this number of cases was higher than expected; during 2006–2016, an average of one Campylobacter case was reported in a city A resident every 3 years. Initial questioning of ill persons did not include an assessment of exposure to untreated drinking water and suggested ground beef consumption as a possible shared exposure. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Consumer Protection obtained distribution records for poultry and ground beef for two local restaurants and one local grocery store. The distribution of poultry and ground beef was evaluated by reviewing the routing records of these products to their source, and no evidence of a shared poultry source was identified. The ground beef was not ground in-house at the grocery store, and the distributors that supplied ground beef to the grocery store and each of the two local restaurants were not shared. Through interviews of city A residents and business owners, investigators were made aware of a report of standing water that “smelled of cattle manure” in a roadside ditch near two municipal water wells.

A collaborative on-site investigation revealed that during the pumping of a large volume of livestock wastewater from a concentrated animal feeding operation through a center pivot irrigation system, the system malfunctioned at an undetermined time. The wastewater was intended to be placed on adjacent farmland. This malfunction allowed excessive runoff to flood a road ditch approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) from two municipal water well houses (3 and 4) that had been operating 6 days before the onset of illness in the first patient. The presence of this standing water was confirmed by city A water operators, who reported seeing water in the ditch for 4 days (February 22–25) (Figure). Pump records indicated that during February 22–27, well 3 was in use, and during February 28–March 7, well 4 was in use (Table 1). During both periods, another well (well 2) was also operating. Wells are rotated in and out of service by city operators as part of regular operations. Water is distributed through the well system without any disinfection or filtration. Routine total coliform and Escherichia coli testing of water from the distribution system was performed on March 8; however, only wells 2 and 5 were operating on that date. As part of the investigation, additional coliform and E. coli testing was performed again on March 16 on direct samples from wells 2, 3, 4, and 5; bacterial culture specifically for Campylobacter was performed on March 20 (wells 4 and 5) and 27 (wells 2 and 3). All samples were negative for coliforms and Campylobacter. No additional pump or testing records were reviewed.

On March 16, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Agriculture conducted an additional investigation of two concentrated animal feeding operation–certified waste lagoons (a manufactured basin that collects livestock waste and water in an oxygen-deprived setting to promote anaerobic conditions as a way to manage refuse)* and associated use of three pivot irrigation systems. The investigation team observed that water from the waste lagoons had been pumped through a pivot onto an adjacent field, which is a common farming practice for fertilizing farm ground or watering crops. City operators confirmed that on February 24 they had observed flow of livestock wastewater into the road ditch near well 4. They followed the wastewater up the road ditch and reported that it came out of the farmland upstream from the wells. Investigators also obtained details of total well depths, static water levels, and pumping water levels (measured during active pumping). Wells 4 and 3 were relatively shallow, with static water levels of 21 and 22 feet, pumping levels of 25 and 26 feet, and total well depths of 43 and 46 feet, respectively; both began service in the 1930s, similar to the other wells in the system, which were also older.

While details around this event were being clarified and environmental testing was pending, an Internet-based questionnaire was designed to aid case-finding and assess potential exposures. A probable case was defined as a diarrheal illness of ≥2 days’ duration with one or more additional signs or symptoms (nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, or headache) in a city A resident, with onset during February 28–March 23, 2017. A confirmed case was defined as a person meeting the probable case definition with either stool culture or PCR-positive results for Campylobacter, or a laboratory-confirmed probable illness in a nonresident who worked, dined, or shopped for groceries in city A. Among approximately 600 city A residents, 94 (16%) completed a questionnaire to report food consumption history, drinking water source, animal exposures, and symptoms. Among questionnaire respondents, 39 (41%) campylobacteriosis cases (six confirmed and 33 probable) were identified, with illness onset from February 28–March 21 (Figure); 25 (64%) cases occurred in females and 14 (36%) in males. The median age was 34.5 years (range = 1.5–85 years). Twelve (31%) patients sought medical care, and three (8%) were hospitalized; no deaths were reported.

Data analysis indicated a significant association between ill persons and consumption of untreated, unboiled municipal tap water (OR = 7.84; 95% CI = 1.69–36.36) (Table 2). Other exposures were assessed, including unpasteurized milk, animal contact, raw poultry, and ground beef, but none demonstrated a significant association with illness. Notably, no cases were reported among the approximately 28 residents of city A’s only nursing home, which used city water but treated it with a reverse osmosis system.

Public Health Response

Wells 3 and 4 were both permanently removed from service on March 16, and no additional illnesses were reported with onset after March 21. On April 25, NDHHS reclassified these wells to Emergency Status, meaning the well can only be pumped during a case of emergency (e.g., fire, drought, etc.) for nonpotable purposes. Furthermore, meetings were held with area stakeholders to present these findings as evidence to support the award of a planning grant to city A to explore options for a new, higher-volume well to be dug to an acceptable depth in a different location.

This investigation implicates Campylobacter jejuni as the cause of this outbreak, most likely from a municipal water system contaminated by wastewater runoff from an adjacent concentrated animal feeding operation (1). In addition to environmental and statistical findings, this conclusion is consistent with prior investigations that demonstrate Campylobacter outbreaks of similar size are historically associated with contaminated water (2–7). Although laboratory testing of the water in this investigation did not yield any positive results, samples were not taken until long after the contamination event, and test results might have been affected by switches among wells supplying the system over time. These findings also suggest that routine coliform testing might not be a good indicator of the presence of Campylobacter species (8). Further, it is possible that Campylobacter in particular might be viable but not necessarily detectable by culture in water systems (9,10). The use of both culture and culture-independent diagnostic tests (PCR) were needed to detect the initial cluster of cases and early recognition of this outbreak. If culture alone had been used, only two cases would have been reported, one of which did not occur in a city A resident. Of those two culture-confirmed cases, one patient refused the interview and the other had typical Campylobacter exposures, such as live poultry, which might not have prompted such a rapid response. This investigation demonstrates the importance of considering exposure to untreated water sources as a potential cause for Campylobacter outbreaks. Including this risk factor in initial questioning could help to expedite outbreak investigations. Ultimately, early recognition and a coordinated response by several state and local agencies greatly facilitated this successful public health intervention.

Campylobacteriosis outbreak associated with contaminated municipal water supply-Nebraska, 2017

22.feb.19

CDC

Caitlin Pedati, Samir Koirala, et al

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6807a1.htm?s_cid=mm6807a1_e