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      Causes of outbreaks associated with drinking water in the United States from 1971 to 2006.

      Clinical microbiology reviews
      Communicable Diseases, epidemiology, transmission, Disease Outbreaks, Disease Transmission, Infectious, Humans, Sentinel Surveillance, United States, Water, parasitology, Water Microbiology, Water Purification

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          Since 1971, the CDC, EPA, and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) have maintained the collaborative national Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System (WBDOSS) to document waterborne disease outbreaks (WBDOs) reported by local, state, and territorial health departments. WBDOs were recently reclassified to better characterize water system deficiencies and risk factors; data were analyzed for trends in outbreak occurrence, etiologies, and deficiencies during 1971 to 2006. A total of 833 WBDOs, 577,991 cases of illness, and 106 deaths were reported during 1971 to 2006. Trends of public health significance include (i) a decrease in the number of reported outbreaks over time and in the annual proportion of outbreaks reported in public water systems, (ii) an increase in the annual proportion of outbreaks reported in individual water systems and in the proportion of outbreaks associated with premise plumbing deficiencies in public water systems, (iii) no change in the annual proportion of outbreaks associated with distribution system deficiencies or the use of untreated and improperly treated groundwater in public water systems, and (iv) the increasing importance of Legionella since its inclusion in WBDOSS in 2001. Data from WBDOSS have helped inform public health and regulatory responses. Additional resources for waterborne disease surveillance and outbreak detection are essential to improve our ability to monitor, detect, and prevent waterborne disease in the United States.

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