E. Coli Symptoms Explained as Boiled Water Advisory Issued in Englewood, Colorado

A city in Colorado has advised some residents to boil tap water before they use it after a sample was found to contain E. coli.

On Thursday, Englewood city officials issued a boil water advisory for a specific section of the city's water distribution system.

As part of routine monthly water quality testing, the city collected samples from 24 sites in the system on Wednesday and Thursday.

One of the 24 samples was found to contain the E. coli bacteria. The city warned that it can make people sick and that it's particularly dangerous for those with a weakened immune system.

According to the city, the presence of E. coli indicates that water may be contaminated with human or animal waste.

Residents should assume they are in an affected area until they have confirmed they are not, which they can do via this website.

Those under the advisory are advised not to use tap water without first boiling it for three minutes and allowing it to cool in order to kill bacteria that may be present. This includes water used for drinking, brushing teeth, washing dishes, preparing food and making ice.

Alternatively, residents can use bottled water, which will be distributed at Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway, from Thursday.

The city said: "While the specific cause of the positive E. coli sample is unknown at this time it's possible that bacterial contamination could occur at the specific test site, as a result of a break in the distribution system (pipes), cross connection, backflow event, or a failure in the water treatment process."

It said it was working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Tri-County Health "to protect public health and resolve this situation." This includes by flushing water lines, investigating the distribution system and testing the water.

What Are the Symptoms of an E. coli Infection?

Most forms of E. coli are harmless, but some can give off toxins that make a person sick, such as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms an E.coli infection can vary. While some people can get mildly sick, it can be life-threatening for others. Commonly, symptoms include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea that can have blood in it. A fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or lower can also occur.

It can take between three to four days for symptoms to appear after a person ingests something contaminated by the bacteria.

The CDC advises people to contact their health care provider if they have diarrhea for more than three days, or diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, bloody diarrhea, or they are vomiting so much that they cannot keep down liquids, and urinate very little.

Approximately 5-10 percent of people who get a toxin-producing E. coli infection will develop what is know as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This can cause kidney damage as toxins from the intestines enter the bloodstream.

Who Is Most at Risk from an E. Coli Infection?

Young children, those with weakened immune systems and older adults are most at risk of falling ill from E. coli.

kettle boiled water, stock, getty
A file photo of a boiling kettle. Residents in a zone of Englewood have been advised to boil their water before using it. Getty Images