CDC Publishes Estimate of Waterborne Disease Burden in the U.S.

This week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a groundbreaking study on the burden and direct healthcare cost of infectious waterborne disease in the United States. The investigation estimates total illnesses, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, deaths, and direct healthcare costs for 17 waterborne infectious diseases. The last 40 years have File:US CDC logo.svgseen a large decline in the number and scope of waterborne disease outbreaks and causes of waterborne disease have shifted from diseases, such as cholera and typhoid, to outbreaks associated with pathogens found in biofilms of plumbing pipes. The CDC study estimates about 7.15 million waterborne illnesses occur annually in the United States, resulting in 601,000 emergency room visits, 118,000 hospitalizations, and 6,630 deaths, incurring $3.33 billion in direct healthcare costs. Otitis externa (Swimmer’s ear) and norovirus infection were the most common illnesses. Most hospitalizations and deaths were caused by biofilm-associated pathogens (nontuberculous mycobacteria, PseudomonasLegionella), costing US $2.39 billion annually.