Bacterial Contamination in water
There are a number of single-celled organisms referred to as bacteria that are present in water like rivers, lakes and dams. The more still the water, the higher the bacterial content. Many of these are harmless to humans, but some of them can cause serious problems- mostly intestinal problems. The most common are Coliform bacteria. Faecal Coliform usually comes from faecal contamination from warm-blooded animals. How often have you seen animals in the water in streams and lakes? Escherichia coli (or E.coli) is a rod-shaped bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract and hence are present in the faeces. The higher the levels, the more toxic it becomes. Consumption of, or even coming in contact with, infected water may cause a variety of illnesses that can vary from mild gastrointestinal discomfort right through to serious dysentery. A weakened immune system, as in the elderly or in the underdeveloped immune system of the very young, can also complicate the illness. Health Departments monitor the levels of bacteria before giving out their drinking water alerts. The usual treatment is boiling, then allowing it to cool down before drinking or cooking with it.