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Facts About E. coli Contamination

Claremont — The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates contamination by human or animal waste of the public water supply, according to the “boil water” order issued yesterday.

Ingesting contaminated water can have short-term effects such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. The symptoms can appear a few hours after infection or several days later and can last more than two weeks.

E. coli is a subgroup of the fecal coliform bacteria group. According to a fact sheet from the Department of Environmental Protection, there are many strains, “most of which are harmless but some can cause illness. Most outbreaks have been related to food, not water, contamination.

Water should be boiled for two minutes — which kills all forms of the bacteria — before being used for drinking or baby formula, washing dishes, preparing food or washing vegetables. The DES further recommends washing hands with bottled water. Adults may continue to shower, but should be sure not to swallow. A sponge bath using a clean supply of water are recommended for children.

More information from the DES is available at www.des.nh.gov.

— Patrick O’Grady

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