Water quality testing completed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) over the past week shows that there are traces of the bacteria E.coli in Victorian floodwaters, including the Rochester, Benalla and Shepparton areas. Read on to find out more about this bacteria and how it can affect you.

What is E.coli?

Escherichia coli or what's most commonly known as E.coli bacteria, normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Most types of E.coli are harmless or cause relatively brief diarrhoea. But a few strains, such as E.coli O157:H7, can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. You can get E.coli from people who are sick through person-to-person contact, from contaminated foods such as ground beef, unpasteurized milk and fresh produce or from contaminated water.

Symptoms can include diarrhoea, stomach cramping, fatigue, fever, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms may begin three to four days after exposure to E.coli but you can become sick sooner than that and up to more than a week later. Adults usually recover from E.coli O157:H7 within a week but younger children, elderly individuals or those who are immunocompromised can have a greater risk of developing life-threatening forms of kidney failure due to the bacteria.


To prevent yourself or others from getting the bacteria, it's important to avoid swallowing water from lakes and pools, wash your hands often and thoroughly, avoid risky foods such as undercooked meat and raw milk, and to watch out for cross-contamination. Meat such as chicken should be cooked until they are well done and there is no pink showing and you should always wash produce before you cook or eat it to get rid of any bacteria or dirt that still may be clinging to it.

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.

Information sourced from: ABC News, Mayoclinic and World Health Organisation.

Image credit: RephiLe water on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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