Letter: Waging a germ war

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a professor of microbiology, I read with great concern your report (12 May) that water companies are disconnecting the supplies of thousands of people annually for failure to pay water bills. Disconnection will interrupt removal of sewage, interfere with sanitation and expose people to risk of infection, in particular, by urinary tract and enteric disease organisms.

The risk of infection cannot be confined to the offending households; their neighbours also would be at risk. This penalty of disconnection, which could be lethal, amounts to germ warfare and takes us back to the insanitary conditions of the last century. Civilised means exist to enforce payment of bills. The germ warfare practice must be abolished.

Yours sincerely,

S. JOHN PIRT

London, SW15

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