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Lack of in-home water ups infections.

The absence of in-home water service has long been linked to gastrointestinal illnesses, but a November AJPH study found that people who lack in-home water are also at greater risk for lower respiratory tract and skin infections.

Researchers studied hospital discharge data for residents of rural villages in Alaska, most of whom are Alaska Natives, from 2000 to 2004, and water service data from about 12,500 homes in 128 Alaskan villages.

Researchers found that people living in regions with a lower proportion of in-home water service had significantly higher hospitalization rates for pneumonia, influenza and skin or soft tissue infections than people living in homes with modern sanitation services.

In 2000, about 94 percent of Alaskan homes had complete sanitation, which placed Alaska last among U.S. states. Alaskan village residents who lack in-home water service typically obtain water from a community-based water point and bring it home in five-gallon plastic containers, the study authors noted.

But respiratory and skin infections are not typically contracted through water, researchers noted. The higher rates of lower respiratory tract and skin infections in homes that lack modern sanitation services may best be explained "by the important role water plays in preventing respiratory and skin infections through hand-washing and other personal hygienic measures," the authors wrote. (Page 2,072)
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Title Annotation:JOURNAL WATCH: Highlights from the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health
Author:Johnson, Teddi Dineley
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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