Can a water fountain make you sick? The answer, it turns out, depends on many factors, The New York Times
The water from most public drinking fountains in major American cities is nearly always carefully monitored for germs and is safe to drink — as well as water of home taps and sidewalk fire hydrants.
For most public drinking water fountains, there is also virtually no risk of disease from the spout itself.
But the bowl of the fountain can have infectious mucus because some people spit before drinking. And parts that are touched by hands — the rim and the handle — can harbor dozens of bacteria or viruses transmitted by feces, mucus, or coughs.
According to a recent report on waterborne diseases in drinking water from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several hundred illnesses and 14 deaths were associated with drinking water in 2011-12.
Most of the serious cases were Legionnaire’s disease; the rest were: norovirus, E. coli, Shigella, giardia or other pathogens. None were caused by water from water systems given standard disinfection treatment. Most were in camps fed by springs or lakes, or in small communities with wells near broken septic systems.
But in some city buildings, including hotels and hospitals, the plumbing itself was to blame.
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