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Zoonoses, food- and waterborne emerging epidemics

Assessment of human health impacts from emerging microbial pathogens in drinking water by molecular and epidemiological studies

EC contribution
: € 2 400 000
: 36 months
Starting date
: October 1, 2006
: IP
: molecular detection, waterborne pathogens, epidemiology of diarrhoea
Project Number
: FOOD-CT-2006-036306


The development and validation of molecular detection technologies is urgently needed in order to support comprehensive safety concepts for European drinking water, and is a main focus of the HEALTHY-WATER project, in addition to the epidemiology of waterborne diseases. Molecular methods for screening, detection and quantification of pathogens and the assessment of the physiological state of drinking water bacteria are developed, validated and applied within the HEALTHY-WATER project. An example, demonstrating the applicability of the molecular technology for whole drinking water supplies is given below.


Currently, hygienic quality and potential health risk from the consumption of drinking water is assessed by the cultivation of indicator bacteria (Directive 98/83/EC). This classical microbiological methodology relies on the cultivation of specific bacteria, e.g. plate counts of coliforms, and has a variety of serious drawbacks, like no correlation to many microbial pathogens and no valid identification of the pathogens. Therefore, this methodology is completely inappropriate for the detection of emerging pathogens in drinking water. For this reason, state-of-the-art detection methodology is a main focus of this project.

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