Predictably, officials in this farming community are horrified by the outbreak and their lousy mood was recently exacerbated by revelations that the city’s water authorities knew back on May 18 that their supply was contaminated but did nothing to stop its distribution. No one knows how the bacteria got into the water, although some speculate recent rains could have pushed manure-contaminated floodwaters into drinking reservoirs. Police are also examining the filtering and chlorinating systems at local water stations.
Since water can also carry the bacteria with alarming ease, Walkerton’s disastrous encounter with the illness serves as a terrifying nudge into a state of vigilance. In the case of water-borne outbreaks, people become infected after coming into contact with swimming or drinking water that’s been contaminated with sewage and/or human or animal fecal matter. With that delightful image in mind, doctors recommend taking the following precautions around water: Avoid swallowing lake or pool water when swimming; do everyone a favor and don’t swim when you are having gastrointestinal issues; keep children who wear diapers out of the water. Everybody, with the notable exception of a few frustrated E. coli bacteria, will thank you for your diligence.