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NYACK, NY (AP / CBSNewYork) - About 15,000 customers in several suburban New York communities are being advised to boil their water due to the presence of high levels of coliform bacteria. The Rockland County Department of Health issued the order for Nyack Water Department customers on Tuesday.
Coliform bacteria are commonly found in water supplies but elevated levels are an indicator that potentially harmful microbes may exist. Symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches.
Health Commissioner Joan Facelle tells the Journal News tests didn’t show the presence of the much more dangerous E. coli or fecal bacteria.
Nyack Water Department Superintendent Harry Williams says the source of the contamination is being investigated. The order is expected to last 3-5 days for customers in Nyack, South Nyack, Central Nyack and a portion of West Nyack.
Coliform bacteria are a commonly-used bacterial indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water. They are defined as rod-shaped Gram-negative non-spore forming bacteria which can ferment lactose with the production of acid and gas when incubated at 35-37°C. Coliforms can be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation; they are universally present in large numbers in the faeces of warm-blooded animals. ---While coliforms are themselves not normally causes of serious illness, they are easy to culture and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of faecal origin may be present.--- Faecal pathogens include bacteria, viruses, or protozoa and many multicellular parasites.
Typical genera include:
Escherichia coli (E. coli), a rod-shaped member of the coliform group, can be distinguished from most other coliforms by its ability to ferment lactose at 44°C in the fecal coliform test, and by its growth and color reaction on certain types of culture media. When cultured on an EMB plate, a positive result for E. coli is metallic green colonies on a dark purple media. Unlike the general coliform group, E. coli are almost exclusively of fecal origin and their presence is thus an effective confirmation of fecal contamination. Some strains of E. coli can cause serious illness in humans.
Kind of makes you wonder, if the presence of coliforms themselves are not usually cause for alarm (as stated above), why have they sounded the alarm bells if they've supposedly ruled out the most serious forms of faecal pathogens which are the ones that cause the symptoms described in the article?