Community Health Impact of Extended Loss of Water Service — Alabama, January 2010 MMWR, February 18, 2011, Vol. 60, No. 6
What is already known on this topic? Studies in other countries have identified an association between low pressure events in water distribution systems and gastrointestinal illness; the aging water infrastructure in the United States might increase the risk for similar health effects during main breaks or water-related emergencies that cause loss of pressure throughout the water distribution system.
What is added by this report? In January 2010, in two Alabama communities, persons in households that experienced extended water service interruption were more likely to report acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) than members of unaffected households; this association was particularly significant among persons in households that experienced ≥7 days of loss of water pressure (15.6% reporting AGI), compared with those unaffected by the water emergency (4.3% reporting AGI).
What are the implications for public health practice? Public health agencies might help to prevent or mitigate the health effects from future water emergencies through efforts to improve community and household preparedness and to develop and implement effective communication strategies to reach diverse communities before and during such emergencies.