St Helena Online

Tag: E-coli

Safe to drink again: Rupert’s water is clear of e-coli bug

People in Rupert’s Valley on St Helena no longer need to boil water for drinking and cooking, says the island’s health directorate. A warning was issued on 6 September saying low levels of the the potentially harmful e-coli bacteria had been found in the valley’s water supply. Further tests show it is now free from contamination and no precautions are needed.

E-coli bug found in island water supply

(11 September update: the water is now free of contamination)

by St Helena Government writer

Recent water samples from the Rupert’s Valley area have indicated low levels of e-coli contamination.

Water in homes and businesses should be boiled or sterilised before being consumed or used domestically. The same precautionary measures should be taken if intending to use the water supply at the shower and toilet facilities near the beach area.

It is intended that the network will be flushed and further sampling carried out on Monday next week.  An update will be issued once the results are available.

  • Information about the e-coli bacteria and its effects was published on St Helena Online when a more-widespread case of contamination was discovered on the island in March 2012. Read it here.

Water is now safe in Levelwood – but E.coli threat remains

Drinking water in the Levelwood and Rupert’s Valley areas of St Helena has been declared safe for drinking – 12 days after potentially-dangerous E.coli bacteria was found in the island’s supply system.

Most people living in homes fed by the Red Hill water treatment plant have also been given clearance to use water without sterilising it, in advice issued on 21 March 2012.

But others living in a small number of homes served by one specific water tank are still warned to boil water before using it for drinking, cooking or cleaning teeth.

St Helena Government said: “Resident in these few homes will be informed personally today about the status of their domestic water. We hope to be able to clear the water in this handful of homes in the next few days, after repeat testing.”

That still leaves residents taking precautions in Half Tree Hollow, Sandy Bay and the west of the island.

Water in homes and businesses between Longwood and the capital, Jamestown, were verified as being safe on Saturday, 17 March 2012.

No cases of human infection have so far been reported and the government has not stated what strain of E.coli has been involved in the alert.

The bacteria is found naturally in the human gut, in safe quantities, and can have some benefits. But some strains are potentially harmful to vulnerable people, including the elderly, babies and pregnant women.

People experiencing nausea or gastric problems should seek medical advice promptly.

A final update is expected within the next few days.


That is good news, but things need to change – all over the place – so we can all benefit from drinking water. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:) – Jon Waters


E.coli alert remains – but Jamestown gets the all-clear
Bacteria alert: St Helenians ordered to boil water


What is E.coli?

E-coli alert remains – but Jamestown gets the all-clear

Water has been declared safe for drinking in parts of St Helena following a bacteria scare – but a warning to boil water remains in place for much of the island.

It’s been more than a week since potentially-dangerous E-coli bacteria was discovered in the island’s water supply. No cases of human infection have been found.

Jamestown and Longwood have both been given the all-clear. A statement was issued today (Saturday) by St Helena Government (SHG):

It is now safe to consume tap water supplied in Jamestown and areas supplied from the Hutts Gate treatment plant (including Longwood, Deadwood, Alarm Forest and Sea View). This is based on today’s test results, which also continue to show improvements in other areas.

We continue to see lower bacterial levels and better chlorination levels in other areas, but people resident outside Jamestown and Hutts Gate should continue to boil or sterilise their water.

Further testing is being undertaken in these areas in order to clear them as quickly as possible.

Chlorine levels have been raised, within international guidelines, and the network has been flushed. Testing showed treatment plants were clean, meaning the source of the bacteria was “somewhere in the network/domestic point of delivery”.

E-coli is a bacteria that lives naturally in the human gut. Its benefits include producing vitamin K2 and preventing more-harmful bacteria from growing. But some forms can kill vulnerable people. The type involved on St Helena has not been disclosed.

Islanders have been given sterilisation advice, here.

Scare puts testers to the test – on their big day

Scientific checks on the water supply have been carried out by staff at the St Helena Public Health Laboratory – which won UK accreditation for testing water on March 8.

Dr Sarel Bloem issued the “boil only” warning on the same day.

Left to right: Geoff Benjamin, Toni Joshua, Anna Thomas, Helena Stevens, Gift Sibanda and Clive Jones
Lab staff celebrated top-rating with a crisis

The laboratory was assessed remotely from the UK over six months last year, via an internet video link – making it a pioneering case. The same system will now be repeated with other remote territories.

An SHG spokesman said: “Credit goes to the entire team in the laboratory for the hard work they put in towards ensuring this milestone was achieved.  The hard work continued during this week with a high number of tests being required as a result of the problems being experienced with the water supply.”

Bacteria alert: St Helenians ordered to boil water

Traces of potentially harmful E-coli bacteria have been found in St Helena’s water supply. No one is thought to have been infected by the bug.

People on the island have been instructed to boil water for at least a minute before drinking it – even if it looks clean.

The bacteria was found during routine checks, but a government statement said tests had yet to reveal whether it was a dangerous variety. Further tests were being made across the island.

Dr Sarel Bloem, the senior medical officer, says the safety advice applies to the whole island, and not just the areas where water was discoloured by an unrelated problem last week.

Police and the general hospital were issuing sterilisation tablets for people who were unable or unwilling to boil water. Tablets were being distributed to schools, shops and people in sheltered housing.

E-coli is a bacteria that lives naturally in the human gut. Its benefits include producing vitamin K2 and preventing more-harmful bacteria from growing.

But some forms can have serious consequences for vulnerable people, including babies and the elderly. In extreme cases, they can cause death.

Symptoms to watch for include severe abdominal cramps, followed by diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

However, St Helena Government has stressed that the instruction to boil water is only a precaution, put in place while tests establish whether the E-coli in the island water supply is harmful.

Islanders are encouraged to boil water and then keep it friedges in clean containers.

Boiled or sterilised water must be used for drinking, preparing food and drinks, making ice cubes, washing vegetables or brushing teeth.

It is not necessary to boil water for showering, laundry, or bathing, as long as it is not swallowed. Infants should be bathed with a sponge.

Most water filters will not protect against E-coli.