Doctors discuss the risks of contamination following water main break

Posted at 10:15 PM, Oct 24, 2017

As the boil water advisory continues to impact thousands of metro Detroiters, 7 Action News asked the experts about what could be in the contaminated water.

Infectious disease physicians at Henry Ford in West Bloomfield stepped up to answer our questions.

"The concern is sometimes when there's low pressure in the water system, there's a possibility that bacterial contamination could occur,” said Dr. Tricia Stein.

She warns people not to panic.

"It would be potentially just bacteria that's found in the environment normally,” said Stein. 

She said there is still a serious risk of getting sick if someone accidentally drinks the water.

"Anybody actually is at risk, even a normal healthy person could develop symptoms,” said Stein.

While she said usually the bacteria are not considered harmful on their own, there’s always the potential. 

"There's always that possibility that e. coli could be one of the pathogens that's there but it probably wouldn't be the only one,” said Stein.

Stein warns some people are at a greater risk of getting sick if they do accidentally drink the water, including the very old, the very young, cancer patients and people who are undergoing chemotherapy. Anyone with a compromised immune system. 

She said watch out for these symptoms:

"Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, maybe some abdominal pain and cramping,” said Stein.

Make sure to boil your water for a full minute before using it for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth or washing dishes as long as the boil water advisory is in place for your area.