The Centers for Disease Control published the results of a study concerning the incidence of waterborne illnesses in the United States.
The January, 2021, article entitled “Estimate of Burden and Direct Healthcare Cost of Infectious Waterborne Disease in the United States,” was published in their journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The study focuses on the period from 2000 to 2014 and attempts to estimate outbreaks associated with all water sources (drinking, recreational, environmental) and exposure routes (ingestion, contact, inhalation). It is a first of its kind study.
Scientists estimated the total illnesses resulting in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, deaths and direct healthcare costs from 17 separate waterborne infectious diseases. Diseases included cryptosporidiosis, E. Coli, giardiasis, Legionnaires’ disease, Psuedomonas, salmonellosis, shigellosis and vibriosis, among others.
The authors estimate that 1 in 44 Americans get sick from waterborne diseases each year. In the U.S., roughly 7.15 million waterborne illnesses occur annually, resulting in 601,000 emergency room visits, 118,000 hospitalizations and 6,630 deaths. Treatments for these diseases incur about $3.33 billion in direct healthcare costs.
Furthermore, most hospitalizations and deaths were caused by biofilmassociated pathogens such as Legionella and Pseudomonas, costing 2.39 billion annually.
These estimates include drinking, recreational and environmental water exposures, and did not differentiate among the different modes of exposure.
As such, the specific role of treated recreational water in the incidence of waterborne illnesses was not detailed.