In addition, they looked at pathogenic free-living amoebae, which are host microorganisms that enhance the growth of bacterial pathogens in water, particularly Legionella and M. avium, by protecting them and providing a place for them to multiply.
Pruden, who still prefers to drink tap rather than bottled water, points out that these pathogens are "opportunistic" because they are most dangerous to people who are ill, such as those already in a hospital, and people with weaker immune systems, including the elderly.
"Pathogens from feces are dealt with by filtering or disinfecting. They are native to warm-blood animals and don't survive long outside that environment. These next-generation pathogens live in biofilms in water systems," Pruden said. "We need to develop a better understanding of conditions and types of bacteria in order to have a better opportunity to fight water-borne disease."
Hong Wang, a postdoctoral associate in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, is the first author of the article, Probiotic Approach to Pathogen Control in Premise Plumbing Systems? A Review, which was first published in August. Wang did her doctoral research on the factors that contribute to growth of opportunistic pathogens in building plumbing. She received her degree in civil engineering in February 2013.
Household plumbing, with lots of surfaces, overnight inactivity, and warmer temperatures, provides ideal ecological niches for opportunistic pathogens. They can readily form colonies, or biofilms. The
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