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Boil water alerts issued for 2 Mississippi cities after E. coli found in water samples

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(JACKSON, Miss.) — Residents of Jackson and Flowood, Mississippi, have been advised to boil their water after routine water samples tested positive for E. coli, the state’s health department said Thursday.

“Health officials strongly recommend that all water be boiled vigorously for one minute before it is consumed,” the Mississippi State Department of Health said in boil water alerts issued for both cities. “This precaution will last at least two full days and water system officials will be immediately notified when the boil water alert is lifted.”

The alerts impact nearly 190,000 customers in Jackson, the state capital, and nearly 28,000 customers in the nearby city of Flowood, the state health department said.

The presence of the bacteria could indicate the water may be contaminated with “human or animal wastes,” which “generally results from a problem with the treatment process or pipes which distribute the water,” the health department said.

The state health department said its Public Health Laboratory reviewed lab protocols and the results were not false positives.

The lab is expediting the tests of new samples from both cities. After two consecutive days of clear testing, the boil water alerts will be lifted, health officials said.

“The safety and protection of the public is the top priority of the Mississippi State Department of Health,” the state health department said in a news release. “The MSDH looks forward to its continued partnership with both the City of Jackson and City of Flowood to keep the water systems safe for all their citizens.”

State health officials advise residents of both cities to not drink tap water or drink from water fountains in parks, public or private buildings that receive water from the affected systems while the boil water advisories are in place. They should not use ice unless it’s been made with boiled water.

Impacted residents should wash their dishes, fruits and vegetables with boiled water and brush their teeth with boiled or bottled water.

“Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will inactivate all major types of harmful bacteria,” the health department said.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening, according to the CDC.

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