New Hampshire Beach Reopened After E. coli Discovery


The city of Manchester, New Hampshire health department reopened its Crystal Lake public beach after previous analyses found elevated levels of E. coli.

**Update 8/16/2016:

The city of Manchester Health Department (MHD) has closed Crystal Lake Public beach once again due to elevated E. coli levels, the MHD confirmed with Contagion today. There was evidence of canine use and goose droppings along the water’s edge and there was a significant rain event over the weekend, preceding the sampling date. These are likely factors in this particular closure.​ The beach will re-open once E. coli levels are found to be acceptable.

The Manchester Health Department (MHD) has reopened the public beach at Crystal Lake for swimming. "Analyses of water samples taken on August 11, 2016 indicate that E. coli levels are now within acceptable limits. The Health Department will continue to take weekly water samples at Crystal Lake through Labor Day, " the MHD confirmed to Contagion™.

Philip Alexakos, chief of environmental health and emergency preparedness for the Manchester health department, confirmed with Contagion that their department is taking the necessary steps to ensure safety amidst the outbreak and heat advisory for the state. "We have 3 city swimming pools managed by parks and recreation, [and] so those are the other options people can go to, to provide relief. The pools are all free for residents," said Alexakos.

The MHD closed the Crystal Lake public beach last week after routine water samples led to the discovery of elevated Escherichia coli bacteria, according to a press release from the MHD. New Hampshire joins Idaho as another state with elevated levels of E. coli in a water source. The Idaho Department of Health confirmed with Contagion that it also discovered E.coli bacteria in private water wells last week.

About E. coli

E. coli is caused by various groups of bacteria. These bacteria primarily live in the intestines of humans and animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “most E. coli are harmless and actually are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some E. coli are pathogenic, meaning they can cause illness, either diarrhea or illness outside of the intestinal tract. The types of E. coli that can cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons.” Other kinds of E.coli can be found in drinking water, which indicates the water is contaminated.

The commonly referred to pathotype mentioned in food-borne outbreaks is Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

Prevention and Treatment of STEC

Populations at high risk for contracting the illness include, young children, pregnant women, newborns and those with a weak immune system. There are a number of ways to prevent this illness:

  • Proper handwashing with soap and water after contact with animals. Alcohol-based sanitizers are appropriate if soap and water are not available.
  • Handwashing before and after preparing food for infants
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming
  • Cook meats to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F. You should always use a food thermometer to verify temperature.
  • Do not drink unpasteurized dairy products and juices such as milk or fresh apple cider.
  • Treatment is based on the strain of the infection. For STEC, hydration therapy and rest are crucial. Currently there are no treatments that can cure the infection. Antibiotics are not recommended because they can cause complications. There are reports on a new process that may help reduce E. coli and other food-borne illnesses.

In July, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), "conducted an investigation [in New Hampshire] into the Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) outbreak related to ground beef," according to another release. This led to a reported 14 cases of illness. As a result, the USDA issued a recall of over 8,000 pounds of raw ground beef products manufactured by the company PT Farm LLC, between June 6 and June 16.

New Hampshire's population is over 1.3 million. Approximately 110,000 residents are located in Manchester city, according to the United States census bureau. State data shows that from January 2015 to July 2016, 19 cases of STEC associated with food-borne outbreaks were reported.

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