The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a boil water advisory for the Phantom Ranch area located at the southern end of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The advisory was released on Friday after E.coli bacteria was detected in the water supply, posing a potential health risk to visitors.
According to the NPS, the bacteria can cause illness, particularly for individuals with weakened immune systems. The contamination could have occurred due to increased run-off entering the drinking water source, especially after heavy rains. It could also be a result of a break in the distribution system or a failure in the water treatment process.
As a precautionary measure, the NPS has advised all visitors to boil water for one minute per 1,000 feet of elevation before using it for drinking, brushing teeth, washing dishes, making ice, or cooking. Alternatively, bottled water can be used as a safe alternative.
It is important to note that at the current time, no other areas within the Grand Canyon National Park have been found to have E.coli contamination. However, Phantom Ranch, a popular lodge located at the bottom of the canyon, has been directly affected.
So, what exactly is E.coli? Officially known as Escherichia coli, it is a type of bacteria commonly found in the environment, as well as in the intestines of humans and animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that certain strains of E.coli can make people sick, causing symptoms such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, respiratory illness, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.
Symptoms generally appear three to four days after consuming food or water contaminated with E.coli, but they can manifest as soon as one day or up to 10 days later. While most individuals will recover within five to seven days without medical intervention, some may experience severe illness that requires medical care.
The CDC recommends seeking medical attention if diarrhea lasts for more than three days, if it is accompanied by a fever higher than 102°F, bloody diarrhea, or excessive vomiting that inhibits fluid intake and urine output.
Although rare, E.coli infection can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in some cases. HUS can cause kidney failure or other life-threatening complications. Symptoms of HUS include extreme fatigue, decreased urination, and paleness in the face and lower eyelids.
In response to the contamination, the National Park Service has taken immediate action to rectify the situation. It is making control system adjustments and restarting the chlorination process. Additionally, increased sampling for coliform bacteria is being conducted to identify the source of the contamination. The NPS has reassured visitors that it will notify them when tests show no bacteria, indicating that boiling the water is no longer necessary.
The NPS urges individuals in the area to share the boil water advisory with anyone who may be exposed to the contaminated water. For further guidance on reducing the risk of infection, individuals can contact the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
Visitors to the Grand Canyon National Park are advised to stay updated on the situation and follow the NPS guidelines to ensure their safety and well-being while enjoying the natural wonders of the park.