a clear
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It’s possible the water we use daily could expose us to Legionnaires' disease. Really? Really!

Most people take it for granted that the water they swim in, wash the dog in, and soak the dishes in is pretty safe. To put it another way, most of us – unless some public alarm bell is sounded – don’t often give a second thought to the water we use so casually day in and day out. However, there is real reason to think about it more cautiously. Why? Man-made aquatic systems, if not treated properly, become fertile hosts for biofilm communities of microbes – including Legionella pneumophila (i.e. Legionnaires' disease). If these pathogens are aerated, they can be breathed by humans – and so begins an outbreak.

Yes, the prospects are frightening. Which goes a long way in explaining why Clemson microbiologist Dr. Tamara McNealy is conducting very focused research aimed at preventing and eliminating contamination of our water systems and developing treatments for those already affected by contamination. It is work that uses classic lab science to safeguard human health.

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Number of Clemson seniors and graduate students who won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships in 2012

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Legionella pneumophila
The edge of a biofilm of Legionella pneumophila, which causes Legionnaires’ disease. McNealy has found that applying gold and platinum nanoparticles dislodges the biofilm. Electron micrograph by Tara Raftery.