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Study Finds Toxic E.Coli In Ireland’s Rivers & Highly Rated Bathing Waters

19th April 2020
Professor Dearbháile Morris, School of Medicine, NUI Galway Professor Dearbháile Morris, School of Medicine, NUI Galway

More than 90% of samples taken from Irish rivers show the presence of E. coli, according to a new study from NUI Galway.

And researchers found that the toxic bacteria was also present in bathing waters which pass muster with the EU’s water quality criteria.

Prof Dearbháile Morris and Dr Louise O’Connor at the School of Medicine, NUI Galway, led the study which is due to be presented at this year’s European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

With European data showing Ireland has had the highest incidence of human infection with Shiga-toxigenic E. coli (STEC) among EU member states for many years — reporting 10 times the EU average in 2017 — the team looked at recreational waters for the presence of the bacteria.

Overall, nearly two thirds of the 75 samples (65%) tested positive for genetic markers of STEC. More than half (56%) of seawater samples were positive, as were three quarters of lake samples.

But just one of 15 river samples tested showed no trace of STEC.

Prof Morris says the high detection rate highlights “the need for further investigation to establish the scale of the problem, not only in Ireland but globally”.

This includes bathing waters in Europe and elsewhere which “are not routinely monitored for the presence of STEC”.

MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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