Summary of Awards to Date

Human health risks from animal agriculture: comparative analysis of the transmission of multiple zoonotic patthogens in mixed-use agricultura.

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Jan. 1, 2008 - Dec. 31, 2010

Award Number


Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety

Amount Awarded



Thomas Harter
University of California, Davis


The prevalence of some waterborne pathogens has prompted water districts, food safety agencies, and regulatory agencies to include animal agriculture and wastewater treatment plants in their list of possible adulterating water sources during outbreak investigations. This study is designed to understand similarities and differences in the occurrence, fate, and transport of key zoonotic pathogens and several indicator organisms in soil water, groundwater, and surface water at the field- and catchment-scale; and to provide a conceptual framework for the quantitative assessment of pathogen transport in the surface water groundwater continuum. We evaluate the environmental transmission of Cryptosporidium, Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella, as well as the indicator organisms Enterococcus spp. and Bacteroidales in animal production areas and in cropping systems irrigated with waters containing animal or human waste. This project begins to evaluate whether our current understanding of lab-scale processes can be scaled to the field- and catchment-scale. With multidisciplinary expertise in microbiology, veterinary medicine, and hydrology, the project team combines the strength of empirical work at various scales in agricultural systems with the need to understand transport processes based on first scientific principles. The knowledge gained will be critical to better assess and delineate the potential impacts of cattle grazing, confined animal agriculture (dairy), and municipal effluent application in cropping systems on surface water and groundwater quality.