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Colorado Blames Alamosa Water For Salmonella Outbreak

Here’s the officials world from the State of Colorado issued Wednesday (3/19/08):

DENVER–The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Wednesday has ordered the city of Alamosa to issue a bottled water advisory for Alamosa residents due to an outbreak of Salmonella in the community. Area residents and visitors are advised to immediately stop using tap water from the city’s water system for drinking and cooking and to begin using bottled water until further notice.

Until such time as sufficient bottled water resources are available in the community, residents are advised that the next best protection is to boil any water from the city’s municipal water system. Water to be consumed should be brought to a rolling boil, but there is no need to boil longer than 15 seconds.

When the flushing of the municipal water system begins, boiling water will not be adequate to protect the public from consuming the water. Only bottled water should be consumed from the time the flushing of the system begins until further notice from city and state officials. Officials will publish notices to inform the public when the municipal system water flushing begins.

Officials from the Colorado Division of Emergency Management and the Emergency Preparedness and Response Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are working with commercial water bottlers and suppliers to help provide bottled water to the community.

State officials also will be working with local officials to flush the city’s municipal water system and to complete follow-up water sampling to determine when the water is again safe to drink. It is estimated it may take a week or longer to flush and disinfect the system.

The order was issued after local water sampling test results were positive for bacterial contamination. Residents served by the Price East Alamosa drinking water system that is served by the city’s municipal water system also are advised to drink bottled water.

To date, 33 cases of salmonella have been confirmed and linked to the outbreak, and another 46 reported cases of salmonella are being investigated by health officials.

Salmonella is a common bacteria than can cause serious illness. It often comes from contaminated food, but can come from contaminated water. As part of the bottled water order, restaurants are urged to serve bottled water and use ice made from either bottled water or purchased from an ice supplier. Use of food and beverage equipment directly connected to the public water source is discouraged.

Water quality officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advised locals to use bottled water for at least a week or until notified that the city’s water system has been flushed and is free of contaminants.

Salmonella Symptoms

Individuals experiencing diarrhea for two days or more, bloody diarrhea, diarrhea with fever or other concerns, should consult their health care provider. Salmonella symptoms usually begin about one to three days after exposure and include diarrhea, fever and stomach pain. Illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people will recover without medical treatment. However, the diarrhea can be severe, and the person may be ill enough to require hospitalization.

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may have a more severe illness. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Information about salmonella is available at the COHELP line 1-877-462-2911. People can call for recorded information between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Anyone actually impacted should go here for the details on what to do.