A Briefing on Microorganisms and Drinking Water Supplies: A Review of the Literature 2003-2004
This series of annual reviews aims to provide the water industry with an “early warning” of potential threats to the safety of public drinking water supplies posed by emerging or novel pathogens.
The review has not highlighted any pathogens of immediate concern and there is no evidence to suggest that any emerging pathogens are posing a risk through public supplies in the UK. Overall, the microbiological quality of drinking water leaving treatment works in the UK is excellent and the adoption in the future of Water Safety Plans should provide added security to public health.
Current concerns about the microbiological safety of water derived from public supplies relate to the growth organisms, such as Legionella, Mycobacterium and Acanthamoeba, in distribution systems within buildings. Although Acanthameoba is a concern as a pathogen in its own right, it may play a role in the transmission of other pathogens.
The bacterial pathogens that continue to be of interest to public supplies are., Helicobacter spp. and Mycobacteria spp. Here further research work is currently in progress to ascertain the reality of the theoretical threat that these organisms could pose. Although viruses, such as norovirus, may be transmitted through drinking water, the use of disinfection in the UK ensures adequate protection. The risks posed by Cryptosporidium oocysts appears to have been addressed by the DEFRA Cryptosporidium regulations and the activity of the Water Companies.
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