A prospective epidemiological morbidity and aerology study was carried out in Israel in 1980/82 on the association between enteric disease incidence and wastewater utilization in 29 kibbutzim - collective agricultural communities (population 15 605).
Analysis of morbidity data indicates that no significant excess of enteric disease episode rates was found in any age group, including the 0-5 year old age group, or in any occupational group, in kibbutzim exposed to wastewater aerosols versus kibbutzim using wastewater but not exposed to aerosols, or kibbutzim not exposed to wastewater in any form.
Results of viral antibodies in blood sera of a subsample of the population generally confirmed the findings of the morbidity study. Of 8 enteroviruses tested no excess in antibody level was found in the population, exposed to aerosolized wastewater versus the control kibbutzim. However, a consistent and significant excess of prevalence for ECHO 4 virus antibodies was found in the 0–5 year old age group in kibbutzim exposed to aerosolized wastewater from nearby towns as compared with all other populations (p<0.001). No excess of morbidity was detected, however, in this group.
A significant excess in the percentage of sera positives was found for Legionella pneumophila (serogroup 1–8) among all water contact workers versus nonwater contact control group workers (4.5% vs 1.5%). However, no differences were found between waste water-contact and clean water-contact workers.
In field studies, aerosolized enteric bacteria and viruses of wastewater origin were detected in air samples as far as 730 m downwind of wastewater sprinkler irrigated plots.