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E. coli explained

During the last few days, residents of Frankfort and particularly Namahadi, have been hard hit by either, no water, dirty water, Diesel-polluted water and now also water contaminated by harmful pathogenic bacteria. Because Cornelia and surrounds receive water from the Frankfort water treatment plant, residents there are also exposed to the dangers of E. coli and faecal coliforms.

What is E. coli? And faecal coliforms?

Both Escherichia coli (E. coli) and faecal coliforms in water,are strong indicators of sewage or animal waste contamination. Sewage and animal waste can contain many types of disease causing organisms of which E. coli is considered the most harmful and for this reason will be focussed on. Consumption of water contaminated by E. coli may result in severe illness; children under five years of age, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly are particularly susceptible.

Where does E. coli come from?

E. coli comes from human and animal wastes. During precipitation, E. coli may be washed into creeks, rivers, streams, lakes, or groundwater. If municipal water treatment plants are not effectively managed and treatment standards adhered to, E. coli might find its way into the municipal water supply and piped to residents’ homes, communal taps and tanks.

What happens if you drink water with E. coli in it?

Diseases acquired from contact with contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illness, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. The most commonly reported symptoms are stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. For children under five years of age, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly, E. coli present a serious health risk. Severe illness and death may result. If these symptoms are present, you should visit a clinic or see a doctor.

Is E. coli contagious?

E. coli can transmit from animals to people and person to person.If you work in a location that involves close and regular contact between people, like a day care centre, you might have a higher risk of person-to-person E. coli transmission.

Does boiling tap water make it safe? Does bleach kill germs?

Local health officials sometimes issue boil water advisories to kill germs that may make you sick.

If you don’t have access to bottled water, it is recommended by clinic staff to bring tap water to a rolling boil for 1 minute and then allowing the water to cool before using it. Household bleach is an effective disinfectant for water. Using 2 drops of bleach in 1 litre of water will kill most germs and will only affect the taste of the water marginally.

WARNING: These measures might be effective but are not a 100% safeguard against E.coli infection.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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