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E. coli Outbreak Linked to Untreated Home Irrigation Water in Utah City

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Health officials have confirmed that an E. coli outbreak in a Utah city stemmed from untreated municipal irrigation water. The outbreak, occurring between July and September 2023, affected 13 children, with seven requiring hospitalization and two developing kidney failure.

Investigations revealed that children who played in or consumed water from home hoses and sprinklers fell ill. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not disclose the city’s name, adhering to standard investigation practices.

To mitigate future risks, officials recommended color-coded lines and signage to denote untreated irrigation water’s use for outdoor purposes only. This water, piped from reservoirs, lacks routine monitoring and is unfit for drinking or recreation.

Samples collected from reservoirs and sites of exposure confirmed E. coli contamination, with bird feces identified as a potential source. Public alerts were issued promptly, urging residents to refrain from using irrigation water for consumption or recreation.

While untreated irrigation systems are rare in the U.S., they are utilized in some Utah communities to conserve drinking water. Previous outbreaks underscore the importance of educating residents, particularly vulnerable demographics, on water usage and associated risks.

The CDC emphasizes ongoing education as vital in preventing future waterborne illnesses, underscoring the need for awareness among communities with similar irrigation systems. 

Source: FSN

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