Wells and Enteric Disease Transmission (WET) Trial
for private well owners with a child 3-years old or younger
What is the purpose of this trial?
The purpose of this study is to understand if drinking well water can cause illness in children that can include symptoms of diarrhea, cough, or fever. We want to know if treating well water can prevent these illnesses.
Why private wells?
In Pennsylvania, about 3 million people use a private well (not a city or community water supply). Well water can contain germs that cause diarrhea and other illnesses. These germs include: Cryptosporidium, Giardia, norovirus, adenovirus, enterovirus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and pathogenic E. coli.
Why children three years or younger?
Illnesses with diarrhea, cough and/or fever are more common and are a major health problem in young children. Children may benefit the most from drinking water that is treated by an Ultraviolet (UV) device. This may lead to fewer sick days, doctor visits, hospitalizations, and missed workdays for parents.
Why an Ultraviolet (UV) device?
UV light (like from sunlight) is known to be safe and effective for treating germs found in water. Water utilities have been successfully using large UV devices to make water safer for decades.
How will the WET Trial study benefit my family?
Everyone benefits from a healthy drinking water supply. Your participation will help us understand how drinking water from a private well can cause people to be ill. It will also help us understand how UV treatment systems protect against these illnesses.
At the end of the study, all participating homes will have a functional whole-home UV treatment device that provides safer drinking water. The device and installation are worth a value of ~$800.
You will receive two $20 gift cards, one halfway and one at the end. For each submission of stool/saliva samples, you will receive an additional $10 gift card (up to 6 times). For timely responses to text messages and illness questionnaires, participants will be entered in a raffle. The raffle winner will receive a weekend trip to either Hershey Park or Dutch Wonderland for a family of 4 ($2,000 value).
What are the researchers doing?
We are performing a randomized controlled trial. We will randomly assign each family to 2 groups. Half of the homes will receive a functioning UV device that disinfects water for the whole home. The second half receives an identical device that has been inactivated.
We will follow the children for one year, recording the number and types of illnesses for the two groups. At the end of the trial, the devices from the second half will be activated. Both groups will have a functioning device at the end of the trial. The devices will be installed by plumbers at no cost to the households. Randomized controlled trials are the best way to find out if there is a cause-effect relationship between the intervention (UV treatment) and the outcome (preventing child illnesses).
What will my family and I have to do?
- Your child will continue to drink the water just as they did before the beginning of the study.
- Allow for UV device installation in your home. (Someone will need to be home. This will take about 2 hours.)
- Respond to weekly text messages for one year asking if your child has been sick.
- When your child is sick, answer survey questions.
- Up to 6 times a year, send stool samples using supplied collection kits and pre-labeled courier packets.
- Collect a saliva sample every month using provided swabs. Mail these in with the stool samples.
- 3-7 times a year, allow researchers to collect water and check on the UV device.
Why collect saliva, stool, and water samples?
We are looking for germs in water that are known to cause illness. We will also look for evidence of these germs in your child’s stool and saliva. Sometimes people carry germs even though they do not feel sick.
Who is eligible to be in this study?
Families that use a private well for drinking water and have a child three years old or younger in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Lancaster, Lehigh, or Montgomery counties.
Why did you pick my community?
We have selected your community because there are many private wells and families with children 3-years old or under.
What if I choose not to participate?