Illegal activities could be cause for E-coli presence

Illegal activities could be cause for E-coli presence
Batu Ferringhi, situated along the coastal road north-west of Georgetown and lined with a string of international- standard resorts, is the most popular beach in Penang. --File Photo
The uncontrolled and illegal activities surrounding the Batu Ferringhi coastal area could have been the reason for the latest E.coli outbreak at the area, said a marine expert.

Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Biological Sciences’s Associate Prof. Dr Wan Maznah Wan Omar said human and animal waste could have seeped into the water due to illegal farming activities and settlements around the area.

She said illegal hotels and food eateries operating for the past four years in the area could have also contributed to the outbreak.

“We have been monitoring the area for the past three years and there has not been any serious case of E.coli infection reported so far,"  she added.

Wan Maznah has also urged the state government to take stern action if illegal farming is proven to be the main culprit for the contamination.

“Direct discharge from the coastal area to the sea should also be filtered and the sewage system improved,” she added.

She also assured that drinking water supplied through taps at homes are safe since E.coli bacteria does not affect water from water reserve systems.

Still she cautioned the public from carrying out recreational activities around the area as direct contact with contaminated water is not safe.

On Tuesday BERNAMA reported tests on water samples taken from the Sungai Batu Ferringhi by the Department of Environment on Monday found the presence of the e-coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria.

The tests were conducted after a part of the sea water off the Batu Ferringhi beach had turned black allegedly due to contamination by sewage wastes as well as serious coastline erosion.

E.coli is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms. Most E.coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning.