KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says E. coli was detected in a sample from a residential well following the floods that hit eastern Kanawha County this week.

According tot eh KCHD, the Environmental Health Division went to the areas affected by the floods to evaluate the area by answering questions from residents and gathering water samples. They say the sample where the E. coli was found came from a well that had been tainted during the flash flood.

The KCHD says after the discovery, they are encouraging more residents to allow their private and community wells to be tested. Health officials say E. coli can be common in floodwaters.

“Fortunately, the majority of residents in the area are hooked into a public water supply,” says KCHD Health Officer Dr. Steven Eshenaur, “Unfortunately, not very many of the residents who get their water from private or community wells have taken us up on our offer to test their well water for free. I hope this message gets out to those residents, who clearly have so much going on in their lives right now. We really don’t want an emergency rom visit for an E. coli infection to be one more ordeal they have to contend with right now.

According to the KCHD, while most forms of E. Coli, or the Escherichia coli, bacteria are harmless and live in the intestines of humans and animals, there are some forms of the bacteria that are pathogenic and can cause illness. This can include severe diarrhea or illness outside of the intestinal tract, officials say.

The pathogenic E. coli is usually transmitted through contaminated water or food, according to health officials.

Health officials say residents whose wells have been tainted by the E. coli are advised not to use the water for drinking or any cleaning purposes. Any water from the well must be boiled until the well has been chlorinated to make the water safe again.

According to the KCHD, the method to chlorinate a well and make it microbiologically safe is to mix a one gallon of liquid bleach (5.25%) with four gallons of water, and then pour that mixture into the well. Next, health officials say to run the water through all water lines, both inside and outside, until a slight chlorine smell comes through the spigot.

After running the water through, health officials say not to use the water again for 12 hours. After the 12 hours are up, residents can run water from each spigot until they can no longer smell the chlorine. The KCHD says residents can continue to use water “as normal” for five days, and then call the KCHD Environmental Health Division for repeat testing to confirm the bacteria is gone.

For testing, repeat testing or any questions regarding the water, contact the KCHD at 304-348-8050.