Walkerton EColi Crisis Essay Research Paper Residents

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Walkerton E.Coli Crisis Essay, Research Paper Residents of Walkerton were informed of a contamination in their water on May 21, 2000. The contamination was caused by E.coli, which “…are bacteria that are commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals. There are different types of E. coli, some of which are not harmful to people and some, which cause serious illness. It is commonly known as Hamburger Disease’.” (http://town.walkerton.on.ca/walkerton2/index2.htm) The contamination was discovered to have been from cow manure from farms surrounding Walkerton’s water wells. What’s worse than the contamination itself is the fact that suspicions of fecal coliform date back to 1978. Also, “…the Ministry [of Environment]’s Owen Sound Office … received faxes

from GAP Enviromicrobial Laboratories once in January and again in April of 2000… indicat[ing] the probable presence of coliform bacteria in the Walkerton water system.” ( http://www.newswire. ca/government/ontario/english/releases/May2000/29/c9024.html) No E.coli was found at this time and the majority of E.coli symptoms did not show up until Wednesday, May 17, Thursday, May 18, and Friday, May 19 (http://www.srhip.on.ca/bgoshu2/Walkerton/Background.html) Many can not understand that there could be any circumstance that could delay such an issue from being heralded to the citizens of the town of which it was affecting. These feelings are especially evident in those affected, since realizing that the contamination of the deadly virus Escherichia coli 0157:H7 was confirmed as

being in the town’s drinking water on May 15, 2000. That was six days when citizens could have been told and saved from being infected with E.coli and becoming very ill and some even dying. “Six people died [directly from E.coli], 2,300 others became ill and some of the children who survived face a lifetime of illness.” (The Toronto Star, The Walkerton Story, 1) Symptoms resulting from E.coli contamination include “… stomach cramps, diarrhea (possibly bloody) fever, nausea and vomiting… It is important that [affected individuals] wash [their] hands, after going to the bathroom, and preparing food for others.” (http://www.srhip.on. ca/bgoshu2/Walkerton/MinistryInformation.htm) Due to ignorance, many residents of Walkerton (including a doctor), purchased diarrhea

antibiotics when E.coli symptoms began. This is generally not recommended as complications may arise from the use of antibiotics and antimatility medications. An E. coli infection usually can only be left to run its course. Handwashing is important for those who had E.coli symptoms within 3 weeks. This is especially important after using a bathroom of before preparing food. In all occasions where possible, someone who is not affected should prepare food. Individuals infected with E.coli 0157:H7 may suffer some serious long term effects. If hemolytic uremic syndrome’ (HUS) is developed, kidney failure may be the result. “HUS is a serious complication of E. coli infection.” (http://www.srhip.on.ca/bgoshu2/Walkerton/ LongTermEffects.htm) Those most greatly at risk of HUS

include young children (especially those under 5 years of age) and the elderly. Another rare effect of E.coli is a Campylobacter infection, which is called Guillane-Barre syndrome (GBS). This syndrome may lead to paralysis of arms and legs and it can progress to respiratory muscles over 2-3 weeks. The development of joint pain called “reactive arthritis” is a second potential consequence of Campylobacter. Illness in other body parts including the gall bladder, pancreas, liver, urinary tract, blood stream, skin, bone or joints can also sometimes be caused by Campylobacter. All individuals who work and/or live in Walkerton had to deal with many problems. Businesses were forced to abide by rules laid out for them by the Medical Officer of Health on May 21, 2000. These rules were