Friday, 11 October 2013

Dr Joanne O'Toole attends the 17th International Symposium on Health Related Water Microbiology

Jootoole125Dr Joanne O’Toole (Infectious Diseases Epidemiological Unit (IDEU)), used her School Travel Grant to  present a paper at the 17th International Symposium on Health Related Water Microbiology in Florianopolis, state capital of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

The scientific program at the conference included workshop sessions on the impact of climate change on health and a WHO workshop on Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment for Water Safety Management and Microbial Water Quality Testing. This conference is held every 2 years, attracts key researchers in the area of water and health and allows for good networking opportunities. The conference was well-attended with over 100 oral presentations (no concurrent sessions).

Topics included: water and sanitation in developing countries; viruses in water; water reuse and health concerns; water pollution and diseases; microbial risk assessment and epidemiology of waterborne disease. Jo’s talk was about the proposed Disability Adjusted Life Year target for Australian drinking water supplies and others also took up this theme in their presentations. Of particular interest was a presentation by Michael Beach from the CDC, USA entitled ‘Waterborne disease outbreak surveillance in the United States’. The conference reinforced the relevance and topicality of current and proposed research of the IDEU. In particular, it highlighted an emerging focus on microbial health risks associated with water supply distribution systems and plumbing aspects -specifically infections transmitted via the inhalation route attributable to Legionella, Mycobacteria and Fungi. Contact was made with international researchers working in this area with the aim of continuing interchange of information. During the conference, weather in Florianopolis was wet, in keeping with a conference focus on health impacts associated with catchment run-off into recreational, shellfish-growing and drinking water supplies.

After the conference Jo pursued the ‘water theme’ and spent a day visiting the Iguazu Falls National park, home of Toco toucans.

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