The Physicians Committee

Could the Water in Your Shower Cause Crohn’s Disease?

  July 24, 2014    

The bacteria implicated in Crohn’s disease may be in your shower, and you can thank the meat industry for it. Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis is common in cattle, and when transmitted to humans, it is believed to cause Crohn’s disease. In the journal Pathogens, researchers at Lancaster University in the U.K. report that agricultural runoff sends the bacteria into rivers and streams and ultimately into public water supplies, often taking up residence in pipes and showerheads and vaporizing as showers are turned on. It was detected in 10 percent of samples tested.


Running a shower for a few minutes before getting in will wash away some of the accumulated bacteria. Avoiding the raising of animals for food products would dramatically reduce the risk of infectious diseases in human populations.


The last comment leaves it unclear whether the author means "the individual's avoidance of animal products" or "a society's avoidance of animal products." I assume it is the latter, which means the situation is helpless, particularly in farming regions. Is it the case that the bacteria is more prevalent in water bodies near abattoirs and butcheries?

Showerheads can be removed and soaked in bleach, however, which may help.

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