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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Viability of Pathogens in the Environment

Authors
item Jenkins, Michael
item Bowman, D - CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Pathogens in the Environment Workshop Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 20, 2003
Publication Date: February 25, 2004
Citation: Jenkins, M., Bowman, D.D. 2004. Viability of pathogens in the environment. In: Hargrove, W.L., editor. Pathogens in the Environment Workshop Proceedings. February 23-25, 2004. Kansas City, Missouri. p. 30-33.

Interpretive Summary: The U.S. beef, dairy, poultry, and swine industries produce 1.5 billion metric tons of animal waste per year in the form of manure, litter, and slurry. Most of this waste is applied to agricultural fields as fertilizer. Application of this waste, however, increases the risk of contaminating food and water for human consumption with pathogenic organisms that cause disease. Federal and state environmental protection agencies, managers of municipal watersheds, agricultural extension agents, and environmental scientists need comprehensive information about pathogenic organisms like Salmonella and the parasite Cryptosporidium that are in manure, litter, and slurry. An ARS Microbiologist at J. Phil Campbell, Sr., Natural Resources Conservation Center, Watkinsville, GA, and a Veterinary Parasitologist at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY presented the following information needed to better protect public health from these pathogens commonly found in manure: (a) the numbers cells for each pathogenic organism needed to infect humans, (b) the number of each pathogen contained in feces, and (c) how long each pathogen survives in feces excreted in the environment, in soil, and in various environmental waters. Thisinformation was made available at the Pathogens in the Environment Workshop, and underscored the gaps in our knowledge as well as future areas for research. An extensive bibliography was included.

Technical Abstract: Animal agriculture as sources of zoonotic pathogens in the environment is the focus of this review. Over 1.5 billion metric tons of animal waste are produced by the animal industry per year in the U.S. Field application of this waste as fertilizer accounts for most of its disposal, but increases the risk of food- and water-borne diseases. Zoonotic pathogens such as Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. are associated with a large fraction of food related deaths. Because of the large quantity of animal waste that is applied to agricultural fields, a better understanding of infective dose, numbers of infective units in fecal material, and die-off rates of manure pathogens in the environment is needed. Data on survival of important manure pathogens in feces, soil, and water are discussed, and gaps in our knowledge are identified. An extensive bibliography is included.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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