Health Providers to Track Water-Borne Illnesses Following Contamination

Posted in: Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination, Water Health Effects
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Article courtesy of DK McDONALD | July 22, 2015 | The Daily News | Shared as educational material

BULLHEAD CITY — Some health providers in Bullhead City will be helping to track any illnesses that occur as a result of the storm-driven contamination of Laughlin’s drinking water.

“Western Arizona Regional Medical Center works closely with local county and public health departments,” said WARMC spokeswoman Tracey Bristol. “Through a direct chain of communication, the Department of Health notifies Western Arizona Regional Medical Center of the diseases that need to be reported.

“As a part of WARMC’s Routine Surveillance Program, organisms that can cause water borne illnesses are being tracked and WARMC will immediately report to the (Mohave) County Health Department.”

Valley View Medical Center did not return calls for comment.

Big Bend Water District, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Valley Water District, issued a boil water order for Laughlin on Saturday when water samples showed levels of sediment (turbidity) higher than allowed for safe drinking water standards.  The boil water order was lifted Tuesday afternoon, after sampling and testing showed the water being provided to Laughlin residents meets or surpasses state and federal drinking water standards.

Turbidity has no health effects on its own, but it can interfere with water treatment processes and may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites according to the BBWD order issued Saturday.

Tier 1 boil water orders are the most common type of advisory, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and indicates that many types of microbes could be present in  the water.  Water systems are concerned about bacteria such as E. coli, viruses such as norovirus, and parasites such as Cryptosporidium. Symptoms of illness may appear as early as a few hours to several days after infection and may last more than two weeks. Most people exposed will not get sick.

”It’s important to know that the elderly, people who are immune compromised, infants and people with chronic diseases are at a higher risk to water borne illnesses,” Bristol said. “Signs and symptoms to look for are nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain of an unknown origin, a significant change in bowel habits, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Anyone showing signs of one or more of these symptoms should go to their primary care physician or the emergency room.”

Advisories are required by the Safe Drinking Water Act when specific circumstances exist. The SDWA requires communication with customers when the water system does not comply with a regulation.

“A decision to issue a Tier 1 Public Notice — in this case taking the form of a Boil Water Order — first rests with the Public Water System,” said JoAnn Kittrell, Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources public information manager. “However the Federal regulations adopted by the state of Nevada discuss that it be done in consultation with the state.

“In this case, the Bureau was contacted by Big Bend Water District Saturday morning as events were unfolding, and before any violation had actually occurred. We tracked the situation all weekend through regular communication with their point of contact.

“The decision to lift the Boil Water Order rests with the Bureau.  Once this extraordinary event is over, monitoring of the system will return to the normal monitoring schedules.”

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