The incidence of waterborne infectious disease outbreaks attributed to opportunistic pathoges (OPs), which are not regulated by the U.S. EPA, appears to be increasing. Although many studies have surveyed premise plumbing and distribution systems for OPs, there is no unified method to monitor DW systems for all OPs of interest. This lack of unified methodology stems from differences in life cycle stages and physiologies of different OPs.
This project aims to develop methods for accurately detecting and quantifying bacterial and protozoan OPs in drinking water systems, with a particular focus on L. pneumophila, P. aeruginosa, nontuberculous mycobacteria, and Acanthamoeba spp. These four OPs represent the greatest health and economic burden posed among those occurring in premise plumbing. Additionally, they collectively encompass the physiological and ecological traits of all known OPs in premise plumbing that make their detection and quantification particularly challenging.
The research team will also develop guidelines for utilities with different levels of expertise and resources on how to implement OP monitoring. The team will also examine the effectiveness of several mitigation strategies to reduce the abundance of OPs with a focus on in-home premise plumbing modifications.
March 1, 2018 – August 31, 2018 - During this first reporting period, the team held its first project advisory committee (PAC) meeting, the target opportunistic pathogens (OPs) were selected, and development of DNA extraction and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) methods was initiated.
December 1, 2018 – February 28, 2019 - During this reporting period, the team started to examine how the developed methods for opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPPs) measurement will perform under real-world conditions, especially when evaluating effects of mitigation.