Residents of a northeast San Jose neighborhood are being told to boil any water they use for drinking or cooking after water in the area tested positive for E. coli.
Three people have reported becoming ill, a San Jose Water Company spokesman said Wednesday. They reported having stomach problems, among the symptoms of some strains of the bacteria along with vomiting and diarrhea, and the company recommended they seek medical attention.
Officials said the water is safe for regular household uses like showering, washing clothes and dishes. Crews have been working to flush out the water main.
The San Jose Water Company first issued a notice to boil water on Friday to residents on Lisbon Drive, Lisbon Court, Sydney Drive, Rowley Drive, Madrid Drive and Madrid Court in the 95132 zip code area of San Jose.
In addition, Milpitas Christian School and a resident at Stonewood Lane have been notified, officials said.
The water company provided bottled water and set up a water distribution location at Fire Station 19 on Sierra Road after the notice was sent out.
Representatives from the San Jose Water Company said they expected the boil-water order would remain in place for a couple days.
Water company officials are not sure how the water became contaminated, but work crews had been replacing a water main pipe in the area and it is possible that a squirrel or another animal got into the pipe and defecated or became stuck inside and spread the bacteria, he said.
E. coli, or Escherichia, are mostly harmless bacteria living in the intestines of people and animals but some strains lead to illnesses with diarrhea and vomiting and in about 5 to 10 percent of cases, what is called a STEC infection that can cause a life-threatening complication, hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the website of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control.
Bay City News contributed to this report.