Risk of communicable disease infection associated with wastewater irrigation in agricultural settlements

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Science  26 Nov 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4268, pp. 944-946
DOI: 10.1126/science.982051


The incidence of enteric communicable diseases in 77 kibbutzim (agricultural communal settlements) practicing wastewater spray irrigation with partially treated nondisinfected oxidation pond effluent is compared with that in 130 kibbutzim practicing no form of wastewater irrigation. The incidence of shigellosis, salmonellosis, typhoid fever, and infectious hepatitis is two to four times higher in communities practicing wastewater irrigation. No significant differences are found for the incidence of streptococcal infections, tuberculosis, and laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza. Nor are differences found for enteric disease rates during the winter nonirrigation season. Strong wastewater treatment measures, including effective bacterial and viral inactivation through disinfection, are recommended for all cases of sewage irrigation or land disposal near residential areas in light of the potential public health risks involved.