Salmonella Contamination and Water from Private Wells
Drinking water contamination can transmit a number of infectious diseases. Proper construction, maintenance, and regular testing can typically minimize your risk of illness. However, natural bacterial contaminants like salmonella can enter your well through natural processes and can make you ill. The good news is that when detected; it is possible to treat your well to eliminate the risk.
The following information will explain exactly what salmonella is, how it can enter your drinking water supply, and what to do if your water well experiences salmonella contamination.
What are Salmonella and Salmonellosis?
Salmonella is a bacteria that can make you sick. It was first discovered by a scientist named Dr. Salmon and has been recognized as a cause for disease for over 125 years. The illness people get from salmonella is called salmonellosis.
The typical course of the illness consists of symptoms appearing between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Most people infected by the bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that usually last from 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases diarrhea that can be so severe that they may need hospitalization.
In these severe cases, salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other sites throughout the body. In these cases, death can occur unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for the elderly, infants and people with compromised immune systems.
How Does Salmonella Enter The Drinking Water Supply?
Salmonella is present in every region of the United States and throughout the world. Millions of bacteria can be released in a single bowel movement of an infected human or animal. Salmonella enters the water supply through contaminated feces.
Waste can enter the water through natural processes including sewage overflows, septic system failure, animal waste entering the water during flooding, polluted stormwater runoff, and agricultural runoff. Private water wells are particularly at risk after flooding, especially if the well is shallow, dug or bored, or has been submerged under flood waters for a long period of time.
Testing For Salmonella
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that homeowners with private wells have them tested annually for a range of potential contaminants including bacteria. If you notice a change in the taste, odor or appearance of your water or believe that your well may be contaminated with salmonella, you should contact your well water professional immediately and have it tested. In the meantime, until test results are returned, it is suggested that you vigorously boil and water used for drinking for at least 1 minute. This will effectively kill any salmonella bacteria that may be present. After boiling, allow the water to cool and then store it in a clean sanitized container with a tight-fitting lid and store it in the refrigerator. Currently, there is no filter certified to remove bacteria from water. This issue is currently under study.
Treating Your Well For Salmonella Contamination
If your well water tests positive for bacterial contamination with salmonella you should not use any water for food preparation or drinking without first boiling it as described above. Bottled water or water from a safe source can also be used.
To remove bacteria from your water well it should be disinfected with a strong chlorine solution to kill any bacteria present. In cases of severe contamination, the disinfection procedure may need to be repeated several times to completely rectify the problem. Once you've treated your well, you must have it retested until the results indicate that your water is safe for consumption.
Until you have a clean test, continue to boil water for use in cooking and consumption.
While there are no filtration systems that are certified to remove bacteria, there are treatment options available such as a whole house UV light and filtration system that can be effective. The best option is to contact your well water professional to arrange testing and disinfection treatments. They can also inform you of any other treatment options that may be applicable.
If you suspect that your well may be contaminated with salmonella and you live in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, contact the experts at Skillings & Sons. We can help you with testing, disinfect your water well and outline you're any water treatment options available.