How many glasses of E. coli did you drink today? That’s probably not a question you’ve ever asked yourself before, but you should. While you typically think of E. coli causing illness due to certain foods, you should know that it is also found in contaminated water. If that doesn’t have your attention, wait for this fact: E. coli isn’t visible to the naked eye. So that clear cup of water that you just downed could easily have E. coli floating around, and you’d never know. It’s time for a quick health lesson so that you can better understand what E. coli is, how to find out if it’s floating around in your water, and what you can do to make sure you don’t consume it the next time you chug a glass of water.
E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a large and diverse group of bacteria found in the environment and foods, including the intestines of people and animals. Certain types of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while other kinds are capable of causing pneumonia, respiratory illness, urinary tract infections and other illnesses.
One way you can come in contact with E. coli is through water. E. coli comes from human and animal wastes. E. coli bacteria can be washed into groundwater, streams, rivers, creeks and lakes during various types of precipitation, including rainfalls and snow melts. If these waters aren’t adequately treated, E. coli could be found in the drinking water. Your public water system is required to notify you if, for any reason, your drinking water is deemed not safe. It would then implement a boil order. When a boil order is issued, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that water be brought to a rolling boil for one minute before it is consumed in order to kill protozoa, viruses and any bacteria in the water.
If you find out there is E. coli in your water you should avoid drinking water from the tap immediately. You should also avoid using tap water for brushing teeth, making ice, washing produce, preparing food, mixing baby formula, making beverages and other uses that require ingesting water. All existing ice cubes should be thrown out. Pets should drink bottled water or pre-boiled water. Doing laundry is still acceptable and adults may continue to shower as long as no water is consumed.
Now that you know it’s possible for E. coli to live in water, it’s time to get your water tested. Culligan has a certified lab that tests for more than 100 contaminants, including E. coli. After the test is complete, Culligan will review the results with you and then discuss options for addressing any contaminated drinking water problems you might have. Schedule an in-home visit from a Culligan Man and test your water today.