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Fulton, New York Remains Under A Boil Water Advisory

Oct 20, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Water officials in Fulton, New York say it will be at least until this Wednesday before they lift the boil water advisory that was put in effect when it was discovered that the water system there was contaminated with the E. coli bacteria.  Right now, testing is ongoing to see if the city's water supply still contains the E. Coli bacteria and officials are working to “clean flush the system and clean out the bacteria.” Officials are also flushing fire hydrants and taking water samples from schools, hospitals, and other major water users citywide to ensure the E. coli has not spread to other areas.  While all Fulton schools will be open today, students will be provided with bottled water and any other necessary provisions.

Officials remain unclear as to how the E. coli bacteria entered the water system; however, they were able to locate the contaminated areas. 

"It's isolated to the north-eastern quadrant of the city, but we have to notify the whole city,” said Dan O'Brian, Fulton Water Works.  Health officials do suggest that all residents boil their water for at least one minute before using it, or use bottled water.

E. coli are a group of bacteria found in animal intestines and feces.  Some strains are necessary for digestion and harmless, while some are harmful, deadly, and toxin-producing and part of a group of E. coli called Verocytotoxigenic E. coli, or VTECs.  Of particular concern is the virulent, sometimes deadly E. coli O157:H7 strain that is part of this group and that is generally found to be the culprit in E. coli-related food- and water-borne illness outbreaks.  E. coli may cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and death.

We are currently reporting on a number of other E. coli outbreaks, including one linked to a slaughterhouse in Vermont in which 10 people fell ill after eating contaminated ground beef at a restaurant there.  We also just reported on the rare E. coli O111 outbreak that made history as the largest such outbreak of this particular E. coli strain in American history.  It seems that the health department in Oklahoma allowed the Country Cottage restaurant—the culprit in that outbreak and the recipient of a number of health code violations in recent years—to remain open even after it confirmed that every person who fell ill had eaten at the restaurant just prior to becoming sick.  One person died in that outbreak, 72 were hospitalized, and 241 were sickened.

We have also long been reporting on distressing emerging reports coming out of the scientific community about cases of drug resistant E. coli being recounted world-wide that are similar in path to a mutated staph called MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus that, when not treated early, is resistant to all but the one antibiotic of last resort

In the US, E. coli is the leading cause of food-borne illness, sickening about 73,000 and killing 61; last year, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to E. coli outbreaks.  Recently, E. coli has also been to blame for a number of water-borne E. coli outbreaks, including one this year on which we reported that affected Alamosa, Colorado, crippling that city’s water system for days.

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