Earth Science News  





. Avian Flu Unlikely To Spread Through Water Systems

To test whether the H5N2 virus could survive water treatments, such as chlorine, UV light and bacterial digesters, chicken embryos were inoculated with the treated virus. Days later researchers removed fluid from the eggs and tested whether the virus survived and replicated.
by Staff Writers
Ithaca NY (SPX) Jan 05, 2007
A close relative of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1) can be eliminated by waste and drinking water treatments, including chlorination, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and bacterial digesters. The virus is harmless to humans but provides a study case of the pathways by which the influenza could spread to human populations.

Cornell researchers studied the related virus, called H5N2, to see whether a hypothetical mutated form of H5N1 could infect people through drinking and wastewater systems. Researchers at Cornell and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point collaborated on the study, published in a recent issue of Environmental Engineering Science.

H5N2, a low-pathogenic avian influenza virus that is not contagious for humans, is physically similar to H5N1, which has been lethal to millions of birds globally and more than half of the almost 200 infected people mostly through handling infected birds, since 2003. Researchers and officials are concerned that if H5N1 mutates to transmit easily between people, a deadly global pandemic could occur.

"It is unknown if H5N1 is more resistant" than H5N2 to procedures used by the water management industry, said Araceli Lucio-Forster, the paper's lead author and a teaching support specialist in Cornell's Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Lucio-Forster will receive her Ph.D. in microbiology from Cornell in January 2007.

Because H5N1 requires high-level biosafety facilities, Lucio-Forster and colleagues used H5N2 as a surrogate virus. Given the similarities between the two viruses, she thinks that if H5N1 entered the water treatment system, "the virus should be inactivated, which means treated water may not be a likely source of transmission," said Lucio-Forster.

Overall, avian flu viruses do not survive well outside of a host. Still, the researchers tried to address concerns in the wastewater-treatment industry that if a human outbreak occurred, contaminated feces passing through the plant could infect plant workers and spread elsewhere through drinking water.

"You have some 50,000 treatment plants in the U.S., and all these operators that run the plants were concerned that if there were an influenza outbreak and everyone were sick, is it going to come into the plant and infect them and others," said co-author Dwight Bowman, a professor of parasitology at Cornell.

To test the effectiveness of UV radiation for killing the H5N2 virus, the researchers exposed the virus in drinking water as well as in wastewater effluents to UV light at varying levels. The treatment was very effective in killing H5N2 at levels well within industry standards (and at lower levels than are used for killing Cryptosporidium and Giardia in water).

For chlorine, which is mostly ubiquitous in U.S. drinking water, the results were less definitive. Inactivation of H5N2 depends on both chlorine concentrations and time of exposure. On average, U.S. treatment plants treat drinking water with chlorine concentrations of 1 milligram per liter for 237 minutes. Under these conditions, the researchers found that H5N2 (and probably H5N1) would be mostly inactivated, but further studies are needed to see if the viruses stay active when they come out of feces or are at different pH and salinity levels.

Similarly, the small laboratory-scale study found that bacterial digesters also reduced H5N2 to undetectable levels after 72 hours, which is consistent with industry standards. The researchers also found that higher digester temperatures inactivated the virus more quickly.

The UV and chlorine tests were conducted at the U.S. Military Academy.

Related Links
Cornell University

Zimbabwe Plans Huge Increase In AIDS Drugs Rollout This Year
Harare (AFP) Jan 03, 2007
Zimbabwe this year aims to more than triple the number of people on anti-retrovirals (ARVs) from the current level of 50,000, a senior official was quoted as saying Monday. "We hope that by the end of 2007, about 160,000 people would have been enrolled under the anti-retroviral programme and we are working hard to ensure that this happens," Owen Mugurungi, National co-ordinator of health ministry's HIV/AIDS programme, told the state-run Herald daily.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • In Record Wildfire Season, NOAA Satellites Aid US Fire Managers
  • Emergency Measures In Hong Kong After Web Chaos
  • Scramble To Repair Telecom Lines Across Asia After Taiwan Quake
  • Weather Hampers Efforts To Reach Indonesian Flood Victims

  • ExxonMobil Disinformation Campaign On Global Warming Science
  • Climate Change: Frisson-Laden Year Lies Ahead
  • Climate Shift May Have Helped Destroy Tang Dynasty
  • UN International Year Of Deserts Ends With Stark Warnings

  • Northrop Grumman To Develop System Requirements For USAF Alternate Infrared Sat System
  • Digitalglobe Announces Ball Aerospace Is Building Worldview 2 Satellite
  • Raytheon Delivers VIIRS Sensor Engineering Development Unit
  • ITT Provides Air Force Better Way To Get Imagery To Distant Forces

  • Russia To Build Large Gas Pipelines To China
  • From Dairy Waste To Electric Power
  • Denmark Aims To Introduce Bio-Ethanol By End Of 2007
  • Mixed Prairie Grasses May Be Better Biofuel Source

  • Avian Flu Unlikely To Spread Through Water Systems
  • Zimbabwe Plans Huge Increase In AIDS Drugs Rollout This Year
  • Ramifications Of Widespread Use Of Tamiflu
  • Extend TB Tests To More Foreign-Born Residents And Citizens

  • Ocean Temperature Predicts Spread Of Marine Species
  • Researchers Identify A Heartbeat In Earth Climate
  • Medical Company Lists On Anonymous Trading Market To Avoid Animal Extremists
  • What Really Caused The Largest Mass Extinction In Earth History

  • Shotgun Sequencing Finds Nanoorganisms
  • Radionuclides Spreading Around The World
  • Bogus Data Masks Scale Of Pollution Woes Facing China
  • How To Protect Against Carbon Monoxide

  • History-Hunting Geneticists Can Still Follow Familiar Trail
  • Software Speeds And Enhances Access To Print Brain Atlases
  • Neanderthals different in north, south
  • Complexity Constrains Evolution Of Human Brain Genes

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement