On Sunday, May 21, 2000, at 1:30 p.m., the Bruce Grey Owen Sound Health Unit in Ontario (that’s in Canada) posted a notice to hospitals and physicians on their web site to make them aware of a boil water advisory for Walkerton, and that a suspected agent in the increase of diarrheal cases was E. coli O157:H7.
Walkerton Water Tower
Not a lot of people were using RSS feeds, and I don’t know if the health unit web site had must-visit status in 2000. But Walkerton, a town of 5,000, was already rife with rumors that something was making residents sick, and many suspected
the water supply. The first public announcement was also the Sunday of the Victoria Day or May 24 long weekend and received scant media coverage.
It wasn’t until Monday evening that local television and radio began reporting illnesses, stating that at least 300 people in Walkerton were ill.
At 11:00 a.m., on Tuesday May 23, the Walkerton hospital jointly held a media conference with the health unit to inform the public of outbreak, make the public aware of the potential complications of the E. coli O157:H7 infection, and to tell the public to take necessary precautions. This generated a print report in the local paper the next day, which was picked up by the national wire service Tuesday evening, and subsequently appeared in papers across Canada on May 24.
The E. coli was thought to originate on a farm owned by a veterinarian and his family at the edge of town, a cow-calf operation that was the poster farm for Environmental Farm Plans. Heavy rains washed cattle manure into a long discarded well-head which was apparently still connected to the municipal system. The brothers in charge of the municipal water system for Walkerton were found to add chlorine based on smell rather than something like test strips, and were criminally convicted.
It identified several failings by the Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and drinking water assessors.
The outbreak in August last year made some 5500 of the town’s 14,000 residents ill with campylobacteriosis. It put 45 in hospital and was linked to three deaths.
The contamination was later found to have entered the town’s drinking water bores. Panel chair Lyn Stevens QC said the outbreak “shook public confidence” in this fundamental service of providing safe drinking water and it raised “serious questions” about the safety and security of New Zealand’s drinking water.
Knowledge and awareness of aquifer and contamination risks near Brookvale Rd fell below “required standards” and it failed to take effective steps to assess the risk, including the management of the many uncapped or disused bores in the vicinity, and the monitoring of the district council’s resource consent to take the water.
The district council “failed to embrace or implement the high standard of care required of a public drinking-water supplier,” particularly in light of a similar outbreak in the district in 1998, from which it appeared to have learned nothing.
The council’s mid-level managers especially failed, Stevens said. They delegated tasks but did not adequately supervise or ensure implementation of requirements. This led to unacceptable delays in developing the council’s water safety plan which would have been “fundamental in addressing the risks of the outbreak.”
That’s a polite way of saying, people care more about their retirement than others, and often fuck up.
Drinking Water Assessors were also at fault, with Stevens finding they were “too hands off” in applying the drinking water standards.
Sounds like food safety auditors.
They should have been stricter in requiring the district council to comply with responsibilities with its water safety plan, he said.
“They failed to address the [council] sufficiently about the lack of risk assessment and the link between the bores and the nearby pond.”
Nicki Harper of Hawkes Bay Today wrote a high number of positive E. coli readings in the Havelock North and Hastings water supplies over the years, dating back to a 1998 water contamination event similar to last year’s Havelock North campylobacter outbreak, caused bureau-types to do, nothing.
It was confirmed yesterday that the most likely source of the contamination was sheep feces that ran off a paddock following heavy rain on August 5 and 6 into the Mangateretere pond near Brookvale Bore 1.
Water from the pond then entered into the aquifer and flowed across to Bore 1 where it was pumped into the reticulation, Mr Stevens said.
The son of an elderly woman who died shortly after contracting Campylobacter during the Havelock North gastro crisis says she had “good innings” despite her death.
Jean Sparksman, 89, was one of three elderly people whose deaths were linked to the outbreak and had been living in the Mary Doyle retirement village at the time of the crisis.
Speaking from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula in Auckland yesterday, Mrs Sparksman’s son, Keith, said her death shouldn’t have happened the way it did.
“She contracted this bug but there were no steps taken to help. That’s probably why she died in the first place.”
The failures are all too familiar: space shuttle Challenger, Bhopal, BP in the Gulf, Listeria in Maple Leaf cold cuts, Walkerton: the tests said things were not good. But a human condition kicked in: Nothing bad happened yesterday so there is a greater chance of nothing bad happening today.
All these people fucked up, and others got sick.
Yet government, industry and academia will trod along, piling up retirement savings, until the next shitfest comes along.
So just watch this stupid Stones video with Keith out of his mind.
The inquiry into the Hastings District Council’s request to re-activate a Brookvale Road bore to augment Havelock North’s peak summer water supply retired today with a set of draft recommendations.
Before wrapping up proceedings, inquiry panel chair Lyn Stevens QC thanked the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) and Hastings District Council (HDC) for the efforts they made that resulted in the regional council dropping its prosecution of the Hastings council.
This agreement came after the first day of hearings on Monday, when pressure was applied by the panel to re-consider the charges.
After extensive questioning on Monday, the regional council agreed to withdraw the charges relating to breaches of the Hastings District Council’s resource consent conditions for taking water from Brookvale bores 1 and 2 – opting to instead consider issuing infringement notices.
Mr Stevens said, “The panel has noted a level of defensiveness in some of the evidence filed to date.
“I’m not being critical of any organisation or witness but wish to emphasise the overriding interest with this inquiry is the public interest, while we look to fulfil the terms of reference to determine the possible causes of contamination.”
A set of 16 draft recommendations were issued and Mr Stevens said the joint working group would be an important conduit to implement them.
The aim was to have the bore re-opened at the end of January before Havelock North water use reached peak demand in February.
Among the recommendations was a directive that the working group – comprising representation from HDC, HBRC, the DHB and drinking water assessors – meet regularly and share information of any potential drinking water safety risk.
For at least 12 months from December 12, the bore would receive cartridge filtration, UV and chlorine treatment, and a regime of regular montioring be implemented.
It was also recommended that the HDC draft an Emergency Response Plan before Bore 3 was brought on line.
Meeting government standards is about the worst thing any group can say when it comes to trust.
Almost all food purchases are an act of faith-based food safety.
The Pinto, an American car that had a tendency to explode when hit from behind, also met all government standards.
More than half the supermarket chickens in a Consumer NZ study carried Campylobacter, but the poultry association says the test was much stricter than official requirements.
The study of 40 chickens found 65 per cent (26 chickens) tested positive for Campylobacter, Consumer NZ said.
Fourty chickens don’t mean statistical shit, especially if they were from the same grower.
But already, the industry and the government are defending NZ poultry, without a lot of data.
Like blowing up real good.
Poultry Industry Association director Michael Brooks said chicken only accounted for 40 per cent of New Zealand’s campylobacter cases.
Some might consider that a lot.
Radio New Zealand reported that Brooks said, “The important thing is to remember that cooking kills campylobacter, and that it’s important to have good hygiene practices when handling a raw product. Safe storage practices and cooking it thoroughly will prevent the risk of illness.”
It’s about lowering loads. All that Campy into a kitchen means cross-contamination is rife.
In a statement, MPI director of systems audit, assurance and monitoring Allan Kinsella said the ministry had considered a retail testing programme but decided it was unnecessary.
Mandatory testing for broiler chicken carcasses was introduced in 2006, she said, and had been so successful it had led to a more than 50 percent reduction in foodborne campylobacter cases between 2007 and 2015.
The posturing on either side is a scam.
When will someone step forward and credibly say, in NZ, we should have fewer people barfing?
The charges were laid after the council investigated the source of the contamination that resulted in more than 5000 people getting sick, and the condition of water supply bores in the area.
The council said its investigations had found evidence of a breach of the maintenance conditions of the party’s resource consent. If a breach was proved, the resource consent no longer permitted the taking of water.
The council has commenced a prosecution against the party, alleging the unlawful taking of water from the aquifer arising from the alleged failure to meet well head maintenance conditions.
Council chief executive Andrew Newman said the drinking water contamination has had a devastating effect on the Havelock North community with wider regional impacts and the council was “very keen to see the cause of the contamination identified and to ensure it does not happen again”.
He said his council had more than 15 people working on its investigations.
These included council scientists, and Environmental Science Research (ESR) with expertise in the environment, land use, water and climate, as well as dye tracing experts.
He said their investigations had included surface and groundwater quality, the bore infrastructure, water pathways in the local environment and livestock in nearby paddocks.
Eight months on from a rescue helicopter dash to Starship children’s hospital, two-year-old Grace Dheda is enjoying being back on her family’s farm – even though it nearly killed her.
In March, Grace and her family were savouring rural life in Wellsford.
Mum Megan and Dad Kirin were planning their up-coming wedding.
That all came to a sudden halt when their daughter began to show signs of illness.
After two days of vomiting and diarrhea, a doctor diagnosed a tummy bug.
Grace was sent home and prescribed plenty of fluids, Megan says.
At home Grace played on the deck like her normal self, but collapsed at bedtime.
Grace was rushed back to the doctors.
“They put her on oxygen straight away. She’d been unconscious for about 45 minutes and they were starting to worry about potential brain damage.”
Given the severity of the situation and the closest ambulance an hour away, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called.
Grace and Megan were ferried to a helipad and arrived to see the chopper landing.
“It was such a relief to see the helicopter,” Megan says.
Megan recalls, “At first nobody knew what was wrong with her and why she was having these seizures. It wasn’t until a few days before we left the hospital that we found out she had contracted E. coli and HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).”
HUS is a severe complication of the E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.
At first it was thought that Grace had contracted the bacterial infection through the water supply, however this was later tested and found to be normal.
It is now believed that she contracted it via the farm animals.
Megan says, “We’ve got cows here on the farm and I don’t like Grace going anywhere near them. The doctor told me I have ‘parental anxiety.’ ‘I love the farm life, but I’m a bit paranoid now and have about 20 bottles of sanitiser around the place.”
The Helicopter Trust is actively fundraising at present in order to purchase three new ventilators for use on their helicopters and in their Rapid Response Vehicle.
The DHB has conducted four surveys since the event in August, the latest on September 27 and 28, the results of which they collated with the previous findings.
The surveys were conducted by telephone and the latest figures brought the estimated total number of residents affected by gastroenteritis to 5530 or 39 per cent of Havelock North’s population, 1072 of those confirmed cases.
Of those hospitalised, as of October 10, 27 were aged over 70, followed by four in the 60-69 year age group, four in the 40-49 age group and three in the 50-59 age group.
Four people under the age of 20 also ended up in hospital.
The total number of people who had developed the rare complication from campylobacter, Guillan Barre Syndrome, was reported to be three people. As the incubation time was up to four weeks, it was considered that any new cases now would not be linked to the original outbreak.
Of the estimated 5530 residents who were affected, 32 per cent had a recurrence of the bug, and as of September 28 four people were experiencing ongoing symptoms.
At the time an estimated 78 per cent of people who had symptoms took time off work or school.
Scientists, and other mere mortals, get lost in their public voice when they speak about things they have no clue about.
I agree with the active citizen, participatory democracy, but there are people who take some (rudimentary) form of training, like food servers and hockey coaches, which is much more than the critics ever do, and the posers should just shut the fuck up.
So when Early Childhood Council boss Peter Reynolds says, new rules have made early childhood education centres less safe because most food poisoning and allergic reactions in ECEs are as a result of food prepared at home, I gotta say, you got a source for that?