Role of livestock in microbiological contamination of water: Commonly the blame, but not always the source
© 2012 McAllister and Topp. • Since the 1940s, livestock production practices in North America have evolved from extensive to intensive systems, concentrating animals, nutrients, and their associated microorganisms within limited geographical areas. • Livestock wastes can harbor both bacterial and protozoal pathogens, and surface and groundwater contamination has been, but is not always, linked to extensive and intensive livestock operations. • In mixed-activity watersheds, fecal contamination can be of livestock, human, or wildlife origin. • Fecal indicator microorganisms are not always indicative of the disease risk of water, a limitation that is being overcome by the development of molecular identification methods that specifi- cally target pathogens. • Best management manure handling, storage, and application practices can substantially reduce the risk of microbial contamination of surface and groundwater. • Livestock management practices can reduce the release of pathogens into the environment. • The purity of water can never be fully guaranteed; consequently, a multiple-barrier approach is most efficacious in ensuring the production of pathogen-free drinking water.
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