What is E. coli and where does it come from?
E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. E. coli is short for Escherichia coli. The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination. During rainfalls, snow melts, or other types of precipitation, E. coli may be washed into creeks, rivers, streams, lakes, or ground water. When these waters are used as sources of drinking water and the water is not treated or inadequately treated, E. coli may end up in drinking water. See more information on E. coli below.
What are the health effects of E. coli?
Although most strains of e.coli are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, there is a strain that produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness. Infection often causes severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Children under the age of five, the elderly, and people whose health is immunocompromised (i.e., people who have long-term illnesses such as cancer or AIDS) are at greater risk of severe illness.
Water can be treated using ultra-violet light
to kill or inactivate E. coli.