Frequent Questions

What health effects are associated with bacterial contamination in drinking water?

Although most coliform bacteria are harmless, the presence of any coliforms in drinking water suggests the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, parasites, or viruses. These human pathogens can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and vomiting, which together comprise a general condition known as gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is not usually serious for a healthy person, but it can lead to more serious problems in people with weakened immune systems, such as very young, elderly, or immuno-compromised individuals (( Bacterial contamination in drinking water is not only related to fecal contamination, since some organisms, like Legionella, are able to grow in piped water distribution systems.

Additionally, one particular strain of E. coli bacteria, E. coli O157:H7, has been known to cause severe illness in humans. Information on E. coli O157:H7 is available at .

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