E. Coli Level Continue Climbing In Local Waterways

Published 06/26 2014 10:51PM

Updated 06/26 2014 11:01PM

E. coli levels continue to rise in area waterways.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department released their weekly tests yesterday.

The Environmental Protection Agency's standards of high E. coli levels is 235 CFUs (Colony Forming Units).  The latest measurements were taken on June 24th.  Wilson Creek was almost at 2500 CFUs, Crighton Access on the James River at 1986.3 CFUs, Galloway Creek at 1299.7 CFUs, Little Sac River at 613.1 CFUs, and Lake Springfield below the dam was at 435.2 CFUs.

The more rain Mother Nature delivers, the higher water E. Coli levels climb. Today there were several people in Crighton Access at James River, where E. coli levels are over eight times the safe limit (as of June 24th).

The hot temperatures and sunshine tempt us to take a dip in the waters, which is exactly what Kaycee Orlando and Courtney Voepel did today.  They swam in Chrighton Access at James River.  "We usually swim every summer in the lake it's just what you do in the summer," says Kaycee Orlando, an OTC student who swims in lakes during the summer.

"Well for a lake it's kind of dirty," comments Courtney Voepel, also an OTC student who swims in lakes during the summer.  Little did Courtney and Kaycee know, the E. Coli levels were over eight times the safe limit.  KOLR10 Reporter Lindsey Day decided to break the news to them.

"I was just on the Greene County Health Department website looking at E. coli levels in lakes.  Can I show you these numbers?" asked Lindsey Day.

"Is it bad?" asked Kaycee.

After seeing the E. coli levels, Courtney and Kaycee did not immediately jump out of the water.

"Do you girls still feel comfortable swimming in the lake?" asked Lindsey Day.

"I'd probably still swim in it because it's water," says Courtney. "But that is a little..."
"Yeah it's a little disturbing," adds Kaycee.

Health department workers say a big spike in E. coli levels after these rainy days is common.  However, June levels are highest this year compared to those in 2013 and 2012.
This year, the second and fourth week in June had E. coli levels over seven times the limit, whereas they were either below the limit or just slightly above in the prior years.

"If they're swimming in a lake or stream they don't want to be gulping water," says Mercy Physician John H. Brown.

"You swallowed water?" Kaycee asks Courtney.

"I don't know if I did but there's a likelihood!" responds Courtney.

"If you suspect you've been exposed to E. coli the most important thing to do is to wash your hands," says Brown. However, if you have already ingested E. coli be aware of the symptoms.  The chief symptom is diarrhea, but other symptoms include abdominal cramps, headaches, and muscle cramps due to dehydration.

These symptoms can start within a few hours of exposure, and last up to a week.  There are things you can do to feel better on your own.  "Push the fluids to stay hydrated and eat lighter foods.  We usually recommend rice or toast," explains Brown.

As for Courtney and Kaycee -- their plans are set for the night!  "Probably take a shower!"

You can check the latest E. coli levels on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department website: http://health.springfieldmo.gov/index.aspx?NID=218

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