Residents in Ocean Beach Park and Point O’Woods on Fire Island are being warned not drink their tap water without boiling it first, or resort to using only bottled water after E.coli bacteria were detected in samples of the local water supply. The Suffolk County (New York) Water Authority has opened up its Traffic Walk Pump Station at the south end of Cayuga Street to offer customers bottled water. The alert, however, does not apply to communities west of Ocean Bay Park or east of Point O’ Woods.
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our clientele and we are working with the Suffolk CountyDepartment of Health to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible,” stated the Authority’s CEO Jeffrey Szabo.
For more information, residents on Fire Island can call 631 665-0063, or visit the Suffolk County Water Authority website.
Most strains of E. coli (Escherichia coli) are harmless. While some can cause urinary tract infections other strains, including 0157:H7 are more serios and may cause severe anemia or kidney failure, which can lead to death. Symptoms of E.coli poisoning usually appear within 3-4 of infection and include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, as well as pale skin, fever, weakness and bruising, as well as insufficient urination
The bacteria is generally spread through contact with the feces of infected humans or animals as well as through food as well as water. Here in the US, most infections are generally traced to meat that has been contaminated during processing. If the raw meat is “not cooked to at least 160°F,” health experts warn that the “bacteria can survive and infect consumers who eat it.” In other cases, such as the one on Fire Island, people can become infected when municipal water supplies have not been properly treated with chlorine, or when accidentally swallowing contaminated water while swimming.