Flooding has led to elevated readings of E. coli in a number of Saskatchewan lakes. Here are six things to know about the nasty bug:
- All bodies of water contain E. coli at all times. When it's above a threshold of 100 colony units per 100 millilitres it's considered unsafe.
- When people ingest E. coli it typically will cause diarrhea, cramping and -- in some severe cases -- kidney or liver damage, sometimes even death.
- When it comes to E. coli in water, ingesting water is the most common route of E. coli contamination. So if you don't swallow it, nothing will likely happen.
- Some individuals are more sensitive to infections than others, so serious illness only affects a certain portion of the population. However, it is difficult to do susceptibility testing to determine who is more likely to get it.
- Fishing in waters with elevated levels of E. coli is OK. E. coli is easily killed with high heat, so one needs to simply ensure fish is well-cooked before eating.
- When officials assess E.coli volumes in water, they use E.coli as a signifier to determine that there are levels of other contaminants in the water too.
- Source: Microbiologist Herb Schellhorn, McMaster University