Toronto

Walkerton residents call conclusions insensitive

The fourth health study on victims of E. coli contamination in Walkerton has upset some local residents.

The fourth health study on victims of E. coli contamination in Walkerton has upset some local residents.

The medical team released findings Thursday that indicated some residents could have suffered kidney damage from drinking too much clean water.

Doctors say the health problems did not occur at the time E. coli contaminated the town's water in May of 2000, when seven people died and thousands became ill.

As the medical team monitored people's health, they noted that excessive fluids could have led to kidney problems.

Bruce Davidson, co-founder of the group Concerned Walkerton Citizens, says highlighting that information during the release of the most recent health study was inappropriate.

"I have family that are still very ill, and have their lives disrupted on a daily basis by the illnesses they are enduring," he said.

"To have something like this played out in a way that would tend to undermine or trivialize those very, very serious conditions I think is granting it much greater gravity than it is really worth."

Dr. Bill Clark, a kidney specialist on the medical team, says there was never any intent to play down the serious health problems facing local residents.

"In actual fact, we have found that those who were ill at the time of the water contamination … have an increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney abnormalities," he said.

"The good news is, by identifying these people, we can provide a treatment that can largely prevent complications."

Davidson says the medical team needs to do a better job of communicating its message to Walkerton residents.

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