Citizens of Portland, Oregon West of the Willamette River have been advised by the Water Bureau to boil any water for cooking or drinking for a least one minute. That's because E.coli has been found in the water.
KOIN Channel 6 of Portland, Oregon just broke the news to Portland, Oregon residents. Additional information has been placed on the television channel website. It gives the following details of this critical problem.
"The Boil Water Notice has been issued in response to the detection of E. Coli in Reservoir 3 in Washington Park. The Portland Water Bureau took the reservoir out of service Saturday morning and is in the process of draining it. Although the specific strain of E. coli is not known, generally the worst strains that are associated by the public with serious illness are not those found in water supplies.
The television goes on to give specifics from the Water Bureau about the contamination.
"If there are health effects from drinking water contamination, we expect them to be diarrhea and belly ache," said Dr. Paul Lewis, Deputy Health Officer for Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. "Although we are hopeful that the contaminated water will not affect peoples' health, diarrhea can be a bigger problem for young children and people who have weakened immune systems. It is also important to note that the E. coli bacteria that is detected on the monitoring test may not be the same as the more notorious E. coli O157:H7, a cause of serious bacterial diarrhea." Dr. Lewis and his staff are working with area medical practitioners regarding symptoms and appropriate treatments.
The Water Bureau's website provides public warnings and information about the nature of E.coli risk and what is being done about the water. The Bureau declares that the problem was found during a routine water quality evaluation. The presence of E.coli was confirmed for fecal contamination in the Washington Park open reservoir on Saturday, November 28. It goes on to say:
. Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these waters can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
The Boil Impact area is listed here.
It should be noted that E.coli can cause severe illness in those especially with compromised immune systems. There have been outbreaks in other cities that have sickened hundreds of people. The Center for Disease Control outlines the seriousness of the symptoms, especially for children and the elderly as well as those with pre-existing conditions or poor immune systems. For some of these individuals, especially children under age 5 and the elderly, there can be additional complications, one of which is called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney failure. The CDC advises individuals to see their treating physicians if there is blood in the urine or if they have any concerns or questions related to any symptoms that can occur from drinking water contaminated with E.coli.
In the meantime, as this is written, here in Northwest Portland a pot is boiling on the stove in the next room, just in case.