Surface water often contaminated with salmonella

February 28th, 2009 - 8:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 28 (IANS) Researchers, who tested stream water over a one-year period in south Georgia, found a high concentration of Salmonella in 79 percent of the samples. Salmonella is a bacteria that causes typhoid and food borne illness Salmonellosis.
“Streams are not routinely tested for Salmonella, and our finding is an indication that many more could be contaminated than people realise,” said Erin Lipp, associate professor in the University of Georgia-Atlanta (UGA) College of Public Health.

“We found our highest numbers in the summer months, and this is also the time when most people get sick.”

Lipp, who co-authored the study with former UGA graduate student Bradd Haley and Dana Cole in the Georgia Division of Public Health, said that although contaminated water used to irrigate or wash produce has been linked to several well-publicised outbreaks of salmonellosis in recent years, the environmental factors that influence Salmonella levels in natural waters are not well understood.

She said understanding how Salmonella levels change in response to variables such as temperature and rainfall are critical to predicting - and ultimately preventing - the waterborne transmission of the bacteria.

The team studied streams in the upper reaches of the Suwannee river basin, which begins in south Georgia and flows into central Florida, a UGA release said.

These findings will appear in the March issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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