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Rose credited as foremost authority on Cryptosporidium
Joan B. Rose received the 2016 Stockholm Water Prize for her contributions to global public health. Rose assessed risks to human health in water and created guidelines and tools for decision-makers and communities to improve global well being. The prize was presented by King of Sweden H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf during a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall during World Water Week.
“The nexus of water-related microbiology, water quality and public health is rife with uncertainty—in both theory and practice,” said the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee in a citation. “The world is blessed with few individuals who can tackle the increasing and changing challenges to clean water and health, starting from state-of-the-art science through dedicated and original research, then moving to professional dissemination, effective lobbying of the legislative arena, influencing practitioners and raising the general awareness. Joan Rose is the leading example of this extremely rare blend of talents.”
“As an individual, it is an honor, and I am overflowing with gratitude,” said Rose. “But it means even more, because it is a prize that honors water, it honors the blue planet and it honors the human condition; therefore, I am very proud.”
Rose is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on the microorganism Cryptosporidium. In 1993, the largest outbreak to date of the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium affected more than 400,000 people in Milwaukee, who got sick from contaminated drinking water. Sixty-nine people died in the outbreak. Cryptosporidium, which exists in both humans and animals, cannot be killed by chlorine and lives for several months.
Rose and her team, whom she calls “water detectives,” investigate waterborne disease outbreaks globally to determine how they can be stopped and prevented. She was the first person to present the widespread occurrence of Cryptosporidium in water supplies in 1988.
“More than 2 billion people still lack adequate sanitation, and over 1 billion lack access to safe drinking water,” said SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren. “Hundreds of thousands of deaths from diarrhoeal diseases each year could be prevented by improved water, sanitation and hygiene. Joan Rose, our water hero, is a beacon of light in the quest for securing a better, healthier life for this and future generations.”
“I think it is going to be the reversal of water quality problems around the world; the algal blooms in fresh water and coastal waters, and the pollution, not just associated with humans, but also with disease outbreaks among our wildlife, like amphibians and fish,” Rose said. “I also think reconnecting water and food security will be a major challenge. We are starting to do it but it will definitely continue to be a challenge.”