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National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID): Water-Related Activities

The National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases aims to prevent disease, disability, and death caused by a wide range of infectious diseases. We focus on diseases that have been around for many years, emerging diseases (those that are new or just recently identified), and zoonotic diseases (those spread from animals to people). Our work is guided in part by a holistic "One Health" strategy, which recognizes the vital interconnectedness of microbes and the environment. Through a comprehensive approach involving many scientific disciplines, we can attain better health for humans and animals and improve our environment. 

Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED)

The division’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch is the lead coordination and response unit for domestic and global water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related disease in NCEZID.

  • Developing, evaluating, and helping to implement and promote novel methods for household water treatment and improved hygiene (Safe Water System) in developing countries around the world.
  • Providing epidemic aid, surveillance, and consultation on the control of foodborne and waterborne outbreaks of acute gastrointestinal illness.
  • Providing surveillance activities for agents of selected foodborne, waterborne, and other bacterial enteric diseases.
  • Developing and implementing prevention strategies for foodborne and waterborne diseases in consultation with regulatory agencies and the food industry.
  • Conducting lab-based disease surveillance of foodborne and diarrheal diseases.
  • Performing studies to determine host-parasite factors related to foodborne, waterborne, and other bacterial enteric diseases.
  • Building national surveillance capacity for waterborne disease and outbreaks
  • Improving parasitic and waterborne outbreak investigations
    • Providing outbreak and consultative assistance.
    • Identifying and tracking the causes and sources of parasitic and waterborne disease.
    • Developing tools and training to improve waterborne disease outbreak investigations.
  • Developing and improving access to water-related health and prevention information
    • Coordinating information throughout CDC to create, maintain, and improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene-related information via the CDC Healthy Water website.
    • Developing health promotion materials to reduce the spread of parasitic and waterborne diseases.
    • Developing recommendations for reducing the spread of parasitic and waterborne disease
  • Collecting data to better define the magnitude, burden, and occurrence of parasitic and waterborne disease
    • Analyzing clinical and environmental samples to understand the spread of parasitic pathogens
    • Identifying risk factors important for the spread of parasitic and waterborne diseases
    • Developing estimates of how much waterborne disease occurs in the U.S.
    • Developing economic estimates for the cost of waterborne disease in the U.S.
    • Using health data to validate the use of rapid fecal indicator tests for maintaining health and water quality at freshwater and marine beaches (collaboration with EPA’s National Epidemiological and Environmental Assessment of Recreational Water)
    • Assessing the health effects of backcountry water use in national parks (collaboration with the National Park Service)
  • Evaluating new or existing public health interventions aimed at reducing the spread of parasitic and waterborne diseases
    • Developing water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH) intervention assessment tools to understand sustainability issues related to WASH and their impact on diarrheal illness, intestinal worms, and Guinea worm.
    • Partnering on developing the national Model Aquatic Health Code effort to improve regulation guiding swimming pool design, operation, and maintenance
  • Developing and improving environmental sampling methods and detection tests for parasitic or waterborne pathogens in water, wastewater, stormwater, and soil
    • Developing appropriate methods for rapidly concentrating large volumes of water for pathogen detection
    • Developing rapid and appropriate detection methods for pathogens found in clinical specimens and environmental samples such as water and soil
      • Developing molecular detection methods for parasitic waterborne pathogens and fecal contamination indicators
      • Developing molecular typing methods for parasitic waterborne pathogens
      • Developing novel or improved serologic tests for parasitic waterborne pathogens
  • Developing and testing performance of disinfection and filtration systems for waterborne pathogen inactivation or removal
    • Developing recommendations for treating swimming pools following contamination
    • Testing the disinfectant sensitivity of waterborne pathogens in drinking and recreational water

Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ)

  • Working to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases (including those that are waterborne) from foreign countries into the United States. Major activities include:
    • Identifying diseases in mobile populations (disease investigations include waterborne infections, such as cholera);
    • Developing and coordinating disease screening programs for immigrants and refugees; and
    • Investigating outbreaks on international conveyances (for example, Legionella, Hepatitis A).

Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP)

  • Protecting patients and healthcare personnel and promoting safety and quality in healthcare delivery systems. Examples of water-related activities include:
    • Conducting water quality research and investigating water-related disease outbreaks in healthcare settings;
    • Providing outbreak assistance and surveillance of hemodialysis-associated adverse events;
    • Working in healthcare-associated water uses (device reprocessing, humidification, hydrotherapy, disinfection, etc), healthcare-associated infections (possibly waterborne) and other adverse events affecting patients and healthcare workers;
    • Providing guidance on disinfection and sterilization;
    • Conducting research on biofilms and disinfection of biothreat agents in drinking water.

Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections (DPEI)

  • Providing leadership and coordination in preparedness and operational support for emergencies, including those resulting from unintentional or intentional water contamination (for example, hurricanes, earthquakes, acts of terrorism) involving biological agents or infectious disease.
  • Working with partners to identify ways to improve access to in-home running water in rural Alaska and assessing the health benefits of these services. Studies done by CDC show that the lack of in-home water and sanitation services in rural Alaskan villages is related to infectious disease health problems in this region. These health challenges include dental cavities; respiratory illnesses, such as infant pneumonia and RSV infection; skin infections; and severe bacterial infections such as in the bloodstream and spinal fluid.

Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)

  • Conducting surveillance, investigations, and studies of vector-borne viral and bacterial diseases (many insect vectors are impacted by water quality/quantity and sanitation conditions)
  • Working to develop effective methods and strategies for diagnosis, prevention, and control of vector-borne viral and bacterial diseases (many insect vectors are impacted by water quality/quantity and sanitation conditions)
  • Evaluating the impact of standing water on the risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases following natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes
  • Developing protocols to monitor and control the dengue vector mosquitoes produced from potable water storage containers
Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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    Atlanta, GA 30333
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    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC–INFO The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
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