SAFETY - WATER QUALITY: Technical Information--Briefing paper on "Water-borne diseases"

In Reply Refer To:                                March 18, 1980
EGS-Mail Stop 412


Subject: WATER QUALITY: Technical Information--Briefing paper on 
         "Water-borne diseases" by Phillip E. Greeson, Quality of 
          Water Branch, Reston, Virginia

The enclosed general discussion of water-borne diseases is a 
continuation of the series of briefing papers on biological 
aspects of water quality. After reading the paper, one should be 
acutely aware of the potential hazards associated with periodic 
contact with natural waters. In fact, WRD and other personnel 
should assume that any water they sample or measure is 
contaminated with pathogenic organisms. It should be a regular 
practice after sampling to thoroughly disinfect with a biocidal 
agent (for example, germicidal soap or alcohol) any exposed skin 
that has come in contact with the water.

At present, the Quality of Water Branch has approved only two 
methods for the detection of pathogenic organisms. Please refer to 
the diatomaceous-earth/membrane-filter method for Salmonella and 
Shigella (TWRI, Book 5, Chapter A4, p. 79-89) and to the membrane 
filter method for Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Open-File Report 79-
1279, p. 10-19). As stated in Quality of Water Branch Technical 
Memorandum No. 75.21 (May 6, 1975), these two methods are approved 
for use only by those individuals who have special training and 
knowledge in the handling of pathogenic organisms. Extreme care 
must be taken in the use of the methods since they provide for the 
reproduction and enhancement of growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Please circulate the enclosed briefing paper as widely as possible 
in all district and project offices.

                            R. J. Pickering
                            Chief, Quality of Water Branch


WRD Distribution: A, B, FO-L, PO