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Why Disinfect?

dog and boy in river

In the U.S., as well as most countries, disinfection of water and wastewater is essential for good public health.  In addition, disinfection is also required to ensure a healthy local environment for both people and animals.

There are many types of viruses and bacteria (pathogens) in typical human sewage that can make people and animals ill. Here is a list of some typical bacteria and viruses found in sewage and the illnesses that they can cause:

Pathogens Associated Illness
Norovirus Epidemic vomiting, nausea and diarrhea
Echoviruses Meningitis, encephalitis, respiratory illness, rash, diarrhea, fever
Salmonella Gastroenteritis, typhoid, salmonellosis
Giardia lamblia Diarrhea
Shigella Bacillary dysentery
Pathogenic E. coli Gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections
Campylobacter Gastroenteritis
Vibrio Cholera, septicemia
Legionella Acute respiratory illness, Legionnaire’s disease
Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
Hepatitis A virus Infectious hepatitis
Cryptosporidium Diarrhea
Rotavirus Diarrhea, vomiting

Read what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have to say about Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI’s).

These bacteria and viruses can cause very serious sickness.  Children, senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems (e.g., cancer patients) are particularly at risk.

Many other people in the general public are also at risk. Anyone active in sports or recreation in your local watershed or coastal environment risks exposure to the untreated bacteria and viruses in sewage.  Common activities like swimming, fishing, boating, waterskiing, and rowing are potentially dangerous to people. Before you go to the beach, read what questions you should ask your Local Beach Health Monitoring Official and what to do if your beach isn’t monitored regularly.

Pets and marine life are also at increased risk due to their exposure to these pathogens.

For more information on if your local sewage is being properly disinfected, please contact your local government.