E. coli Bacteria is Everywhere

E. coli Bacteria is Everywhere

A recent report at my local news station that was reporting on the safety at some area splash parks caught my attention.  Contaminated water is a concern at a splash park just like a public swimming pool.  Water quality must be tested and maintained at a safe level.

I have frequented splash parks during the summer and love the fun in the sun they provide.  Splash parks are like sprinklers on steroids, usually run by the city and are free of charge providing cool relief in the hot summer for all to enjoy.  I am a huge fan and hope more are built.  However, I wrongly thought the exposure to bacteria in the water would be less than at a public swimming pool where you were immersed in the water.

Safe water is determined by testing:

  • The Chlorine Content – Chlorine levels need to be kept up in order to keep bacteria from spreading in the water.
  • Coliform Bacteria Content – A presence of this can indicate that there are harmful organisms in the water.
  • E. coli Presence – A presence of this means that the water has fecal contamination
  • Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) – The presence of this can indicate that the chlorination is not working properly.

 

What is E. coli?

Escherichia oli or E. coli is a bacteria that can be found in the intestines of people, the intestines of animals, in the environment and some foods.  It is usually harmless, however it can cause some uncomfortable symptoms and it can be dangerous if contracted by the very young or the very old.

We generally think of E. coli linked to diarrhea.  According to web.md 75% to 95% of urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli.  Other illnesses caused by E. coli are pneumonia and respiratory illness.

Infection can happen just by swallowing a small amount of the bacteria.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms generally show up 3 to 4 days after exposure to the bacteria; however it is possible to not exhibit symptoms for up to 10 days.

Symptoms can last for just a few days to a week.

  • Diarrhea Mild to Severe (Call a doctor if diarrhea doesn’t go away in 3 to 4 days or is bloody or is accompanied with a fever over 102 F)
  • Abdominal Cramping or Pain
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • WARNING SYMPTOMS TO SEEK A DOCTOR’S CARE: dehydration, pale skin, bloody urine, decreased urine output, pale skin and easily bruising.

 

Risk Factors

  • Age – The very young and the very old are most at risk for complications from exposure to E. coli.
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system due to illness or age.
  • Beware if you take medication to reduce stomach acids.  Those acids can protect your from bacterial infections.

 

Causes

There are many strains of E. coli which can cause differing reactions and illnesses.

Contaminated Water – This can be from a pool, polluted ground water, rivers, streams lakes, irrigation water (on plants) or even municipal water supplies that have become contaminated.  Human and animal feces can pol