Is there poop in your water? Expert says Galveston is hardly alone in its E.coli woes
On Monday, officials on Galveston Island discovered strains of Escherichia coli during a routine, twice-monthly check of the city's drinking water. Though subsequent resampling tested negative for the bacteria, the city issued a boil-water notice on Tuesday afternoon.
The city announced it has lifted the boil water ban in a news release on Wednesday, but a conversation with Dr. Rodrigo Hasbun, associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, reveals that E. coli contamination is much more common and sporadic than expected.
"It's definitely underreported, because a lot of physicians just treat it with antibiotics without taking cultures," Hasbun tells CultureMap.
The bacteria, which indicates fecal matter in the water system, normally manifests itself in watery diarrhea, nausea and fever, though some strains of the bacteria cause the more serious hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which is especially common in children.
Now that the boil-water notice has been lifted, Galveston Island, Pelican Island and Jamaica Beach residents are encouraged to flush out their water lines by "turning on all indoor and outdoor faucets, both hot and cold taps, and allowing water to run for several minutes" and to toss out ice cubes from automatic makers.