Rotavirus Well Water Contamination, Testing and Treatment

Rotavirus Well Water Contamination

Learn About Rotavirus, Water Well Contamination and Protecting Your Family

Prior to the development of a vaccine in 2006, rotavirus caused the hospitalization of about 55,000 children annually in the United States. Today, the virus still kills more than 600,000 children annually worldwide. Most of these cases are not caused by drinking contaminated water, but it is still a dangerous virus that can make its way into drinking water.

The following information will explain exactly what rotavirus is, how it can get into drinking water supplies and what to do if rotavirus is found during water testing.

What is Rotavirus?

Rotaviruses are a family of “wheel-shaped” (rota-) viruses that cause intestinal illnesses when ingested. They are the most common cause of severe, sometimes life-threatening diarrhea among infants and children. Today, thanks to the vaccine, while it is still possible to catch the virus, instances are way down in the United States and it is much less severe than prior to 2006. However, worldwide rotavirus causes the death of more than 600,000 children each year.

While the virus predominantly effects infants and small children, older children and adults can still get sick from the virus. Once exposed, it takes about 2 days for symptoms to appear. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, often accompanied by vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Vomiting and diarrhea can last from 3 to 8 days. Additional symptoms can include loss of appetite and dehydration which can be especially dangerous for infants, young children and the elderly.

How Rotavirus Gets into Drinking Water



Rotaviruses are found in every state in the United States and throughout the world. The virus can make its way into water sources such as private wells that have been contaminated with infected human feces. Waste can enter the water in various ways including sewage overflow, sewage systems that are not working properly, overflowing septic leaching fields, and polluted stormwater runoff.

Wells may be particularly vulnerable to contamination after flooding, especially if the wells are shallow, have been dug or bored, or have been submerged under flood waters for a long period of time.

How Can I Determine If My Well Has Been Contaminated With Rotavirus?

Because rotavirus can occur outside of your normal annual testing period. If any of the above situation occurs and you suspect a problem, contact your well water professional and arrange to have your well tested by a state certified testing lab.

If rotavirus is detected during testing, you will need to temporarily boil your water for at least one minute, allow it to cool and store it in a clean sanitized container with a tight lid, then refrigerate. Because of the viruses small size, using a point of use filter will not remove it from drinking water.

How To Remove Rotavirus From Well Water

While boiling can kill any virus present in your drinking water as described above, there are other treatment methods available that can remove it from your well.

There are several whole house treatment options that can deal with smaller sized viruses such as some nano-filtration technology and UV light treatment. Chlorine disinfection treatment can also kill the virus in your well. However, this must be undertaken by a qualified well water professional. Test your water after any treatment to make sure that the problem is resolved. Then, annually test you well to make sure that the problem does not recur.

If you suspect your well may be contaminated with rotavirus and you live in New Hampshire of Massachusetts, give the experts at Skillings & Sons a call. We can help you with testing and outline your treatment options if rotavirus is detected during testing.