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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Environmental Health Note/Bottled Water Woes

Air Date: Week of October 3, 2003

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on research that suggests mineral water may be a risk factor in campylobacter infection.


CURWOOD: Just ahead: the mouse that roared. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: Campylobacter infection is one of the most common bacterial food-borne illnesses, affecting more than two million Americans every year. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Eating raw or undercooked chicken is a known risk factor for the illness. But, in many cases, scientists don't know how people become infected.

So British researchers surveyed about 200 patients with campylobacter infection. They also surveyed a control group of people who had similar symptoms but not because of the campylobacter bug. Both groups were asked about their recent travel, food consumption, outdoor activities and contact with animals. The study confirmed that eating chicken remains the major risk factor for campylobacter infection.

But the authors were surprised to find that more than half of those infected had consumed bottled mineral water within the week before they got sick. That compares to only about 37 percent in the non-infected, control group. Researchers say this difference may indicate that bottled mineral water is potentially a risk factor for the infection. The authors add that as far as they know, campylobacter has never been found in bottled water, but that might be because testing for it is rarely done.

That’s this week’s Health Note. I’m Diane Toomey.


CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Brian Eno “An Ending (Ascent)” APOLLO ATMOSPHERES AND SOUNDTRACKS (EG - 1983)]



Article in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases


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