Cholera cases a warning for sewer planners

Re: Public warned not to eat herring eggs harvested from French Creek to Qualicum Bay (pqbnews.com, March 23).

The outbreak of cholera near the French Creek Pollution Control Centre indicates issues about sewage standards set by government. There is poor correlation between actual human pathogens (virus or bacterial) and the government standard tests for enterococci or fecal coliform tests. This is a big public health dilemma, worldwide.

The cholera contamination is a tragedy for the coastal areas extending from Deep Bay to Parksville. This area has shallow ocean shelves and bays that warm earlier and are rich in phytoplankton. Cholera is caused by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Planktonic organisms called copepods (typically one to two mm in size) are the natural hosts for vibrios. A single copepod may carry 10,000 vibrios.

Global warming trends have produced similar outbreaks in other unexpected northern latitudes. People swimming in the Baltic Sea contracted necrotic wound infections caused by vibrios, including V. cholerae and V. vulnificus.

Sechelt, prudently, went high-tech with its sewage treatment, with a filtered product, why can’t the mid-Island? Will the proposed Bowser sewage plant only be required to meet current government standards? Tourism will likely take a hit.

Why isn’t government providing immediate human guidelines for activities with beach closures or warnings directed at the most susceptible people that could prevent infections and save lives? Is it safe to take young grandchildren to the beach?

Dianne Eddy

Bowser

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