Tap water- source of bacterial contamination?

21 Mar 2019

Tap water- source of bacterial contamination?

Water may be the source of life and an increasingly precious resource, but it’s also responsible for circulating Legionella pneumophila and Mycobacterium avium. These bacteria are responsible for lung disease (legionellosis and pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacterium disease, respectively).

In the United States, the incidence of legionellosis (Hicks et al. 2012) and the prevalence of pulmonary NTM disease (Adjemian et al. 2012) have increased over the past decade. The yearly healthcare costs related to the treatment of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States are estimated to be about 250 million dollars (Collier et al. 2012).

Tap into it

A recent Journal of Applied Microbiology study has surveyed the presence of these microbes in tap water from homes and office buildings across the United States.

The occurrence of L. pneumophila and M. avium was found to be largely sporadic. Office buildings were prone to microbial persistence independent of building age and square footage. Microbial persistence at residences was observed in those older than 40 years for L. pneumophila and was rarely observed for M. avium.

Minimal outbreak

The investigators noted that the lack of consistent detections reduces the potential to cause an outbreak among a family or group of workers.

"Residences are often suspected to be the source of bacteria when a case of disease is reported, but this study shows that this may not be the case for a sporadic incidence," said lead author Dr. Maura Donohue, of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in Cincinnati.

"Data from this study can help public health officials pinpoint locations of disease transmission, inform decisions on detection or recovery of the causative agent, and improve public health protection."

Journal of & Letters in Applied Microbiology are two of the flagship research journals of the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM). For more than 75 years they have been publishing top quality research and reviews in the broad field of applied microbiology.

The journals are provided to all SfAM members as well as having a global online readership totalling more than 500,000 downloads per year in more than 200 countries. Submitting authors can expect fast decision and publication times, averaging 33 days to first decision and 34 days from acceptance to online publication. There are no page charges.