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New CDC Data Suggests There Were 214 Enteric Disease Outbreaks And Over 2,000 Illness Cases Linked To Contaminated Drinking Water Between 2015 And 2020, 80% Of Which Were Tied To Public Water Systems

Goffkein - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found new data that shows there were 214 enteric disease outbreaks between 2015 and 2020.

They were caused by pathogens such as E. coli, shigella, or Campylobacter. More than 2,000 cases of illnesses that were developed during these outbreaks were connected to contaminated drinking water, and 80 percent of them involved public water systems.

In the study, data from 28 states was analyzed, revealing that legionella, a bacteria that can lead to Legionnaires’ disease, was the cause of public water system outbreaks.

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia that is potentially fatal. People can get it by breathing in small droplets of water that contain legionella.

All of this raises the question: is it safe to drink water straight from the tap? According to Dr. Linda Yancey, the director of infection prevention at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Health System, tap water in the U.S. is usually “very safe” to drink.

However, untreated tap water should not be used for certain purposes. It is recommended to refrain from using tap water in things like nasal irrigation devices, humidifiers, and CPAP machines.

“Our body has defenses against these organisms like the acid in our stomachs and the robust immune protection in the GI tract,” Yancey said. “But when we use tap water in ways that bypass these protections, it can cause trouble.”

She also explained that contaminated water can go directly into the lungs and cause pneumonia with humidifiers and CPAP machines.

In addition, there is a small chance of contracting an amebic infection with nasal irrigation “because the water comes into contact with nerves that go straight to the brain.”

Goffkein – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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