Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There has been a warning about E. coli contaminated water in South Florida. Now I'm wondering are there empirical data or historic cases which show a correlation between E.coli levels in tap water and risk of infection in the population drinking this water. Which pathogens, that could be transmitted through tap water, are common in this area?

share|improve this question
This falls within personal medical advice which is off topic as per the FAQ. If you can remove the references to yourself (can a glass washed with warm E coli contaminated water pose a health risk, or better yet, what is the max temperature at which infectious E coli survive), it might be answered, but it's still borderline. – dd3 Jun 13 '13 at 21:43
You will know shortly. ;-) – Eekhoorn Jun 14 '13 at 11:58
@dd3 Ok as changed it. – Ovi Jun 14 '13 at 12:48
I think there has been something of a misunderstanding here between E. coli and the risk of an infection. Normally E.coli is no pathogen, you have a lot of them in your intestines. The measuring of E. coli in tap water and food is a normal procedure to find faecal contamination, since E.coli is easy to grow. But there are other pathogens you have to worry about like Salmonella, Enterococcus, Cholera and also some E.coli. But it is to expensive to test for every possible pathogen. I'm trying to change you question, to what I think you want to know. – NeoDevlin Jun 15 '13 at 11:18
@NeoDevlin Your comment above would make the best answer currrently. Unfourtunately, there's no "Not a comment; Should be an answer instead." flag! – Volker Siegel Oct 16 '14 at 17:04

The maximum temperature for E. coli to survive is dependent on the strain. E. coli from warm areas can easily survive 45 °C and more. The minimum number of E. coli to ingest in order to become ill is also dependent on the strain. Whether you become ill at all is also dependent on the strain. You harbor many billions of E. coli in your digestive tract without becoming ill, so without further information on the released strain, it's really hard to tell.

One of the suggestions from the WHO Guidelines for drinking water quality is to boil the water in order to desinfect it.

share|improve this answer

One textbook of microbiology suggests that the infectious dose of a specific strain of enterotoxigenic E. coli in adults would be $10^{8}$ cells. Keep in mind that infective dose will vary with species and strain, as well as the health, age and immune-status of the individual ingesting the bacteria. Children, elderly and ill people will generally be affected by a lower infective dose. This does also not consider how well the bacteria can colonize the gastrointestinal system. It is possible for minimal numbers of pathogenic E. coli to colonize in the gut, and only after growing to a infectious level, being to exert pathogenic effects.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.