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Decaying animal carcasses cause coli bacteria in drinking water
The coli bacteria in drinking water from Potsdam-Babelsberg was probably caused by the decaying carcasses of three mice and one mole. As the official veterinarian of Potsdam, Karola Linke, confirmed to the news agency "dpa", "the evidence" suggests that the animals that died were the cause of the bacterial contamination. Since coli bacteria can cause considerable health problems, the authorities advise the population to continue boiling the drinking water before use.
Coli bacteria were already discovered in the drinking water in the Potsdam-Babelsberg region last Wednesday. Since then, the authorities have been looking for the causes of the bacterial contamination and trying to get the health risk under control by flushing the water pipes. The approximately 3,700 affected households in Potsdam and 6,000 households in the Barnim district are still required to boil their drinking water, even if the bacterial load has decreased significantly in recent days. The authorities now named the carcasses of three dead mice and a mole, which were found in a drinking water basin, as a possible source of contamination in Potsdam.
Further laboratory results on the coli bacteria are expected
According to official veterinarian Karola Linke, the evidence suggests that the three decaying mice and the mole triggered the contamination of the drinking water with the health-threatening coli bacteria. A concluding statement is not yet possible at this point in time, however, since the germs could have been rinsed into the drinking water by construction sites even in heavy rain. According to the expert, more precise statements on this can only be made on Tuesday, since then the laboratory results for the water samples are available, which were taken in the region after the heavy rain event on Sunday. "We are waiting for the results of the second samples," the medical officer told the news agency "dpa" on Monday. If these confirm a further decline in the bacterial load, contamination by rainwater can be excluded.
Coli bacteria and coliform germs
However, it will take some time before the contamination with the coli bacteria can be reduced to a safe level, said a spokeswoman for the Barnim district. Because in rural areas “we have long pipes. The flushing takes a long time, ”explained the district spokeswoman. The population is still encouraged to boil the drinking water before use in order to avoid possible health problems. Because coli bacteria can trigger a variety of health problems such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The E. coli bacteria (Escherichia coli), which have reached dubious popularity as part of the EHEC wave of infections, also belong to the so-called coli bacteria. In addition, other coliform germs, such as certain enterobacteria, are summarized under the collective term coli bacteria.
Line capacities that are too large favor contamination
Overall, according to the experts, the health risk posed by the contamination of drinking water should not be underestimated and the authorities can hardly be too careful with their warnings. A problem that also plays a role in the formation of contamination in the pipes of the waterworks is the diameter of the water pipes. Because these are designed for significantly higher transmission volumes, the capacities are only used to a fraction - not least because of the massive population decline in some regions. As a result, the self-cleaning effect of the lines is lost and more and more germs are formed, which in the worst case can cause considerable health problems in the population. (fp)
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Photo credit: Stephan A. Lütgert / pixelio.de