Tags: Drainage & Venting, Case Studies, Disease outbreak / control, Innovation, Research & Knowledge, Water Quality, North America
Examining the prevalence of the fungus Fusarium in bathroom sink drains, researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences found that about 70 percent of Fusarium samples taken from drains belong to one of the six genetic types most often associated with human infections.
This is not the only recent study to have found that contaminated drainlines can cause disease-based problems. A recent study in Hydarabad found that water used in a particular drainline was untreated and being used to irrigate vegetables.
As all in the plumbing and water fraternity know, our water supplies must be kept clean for the general health of the population.
These two studies illustrate the importance of plumbing to global health.
The Penn State study sampled nearly 500 sink drains from 131 buildings, including businesses, homes, university dormitories and public facilities across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and California.
The study was published in December 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. The abstract states: "It has been proposed that plumbing systems might serve as a significant environmental reservoir of human-pathogenic isolates of Fusarium. We tested this hypothesis by performing the first extensive multilocus sequence typing (MLST) survey of plumbing drain-associated Fusarium isolates and comparing the diversity observed to the known diversity of clinical Fusarium isolates. We sampled 471 drains, mostly in bathroom sinks, from 131 buildings in the United States using a swabbing method. We found that 66% of sinks and 80% of buildings surveyed yielded at least one Fusarium culture. A total of 297 isolates of Fusarium collected were subjected to MLST to identify the phylogenetic species and sequence types (STs) of these isolates. Our survey revealed that the six most common STs in sinks were identical to the six most frequently associated with human infections. We speculate that the most prevalent STs, by virtue of their ability to form and grow in biofilms, are well adapted to plumbing systems. Six major Fusarium STs were frequently isolated from plumbing drains within a broad geographic area and were identical to STs frequently associated with human infections."
Lead researcher Dylan Short said, "In the recent outbreaks of fungal keratitis in Southeast Asia and North America connected to contact-lens use, plumbing systems were the main environmental sources of the most frequent Fusarium species and sequence types associated with eye infections."
Another who worked on the project was David Geiser a professor of plant pathology who pointed out that serious infections were uncommon and that these fungi can play a positive role in plumbing systems. He told Infection Control Magazine, the study provides the strongest evidence to date supporting an epidemiological link between human fusarioses and plumbing systems.
"The species involved offer significant potential for studying host-microbe interactions, novel metabolic activities - including the production of mycotoxins and antibiotics -- and the roles of microbes in indoor environments."
As you can see there is important research going on all over the world with regards to plumbing systems. It is important keep abreast of all research and data sop that we can better understand our systems and work hard to improve them.