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Jump Right In! The Fecal Coliform Pollution Is Delightful!

river When considering locations to hold a triathlon, the first question that should come to mind is “So, the body of water the competitors will be swimming in…is it, uh, polluted or anything?”

Obviously, this did not enter the decision-making process of the organizers of the Boathouse International Biathlon in Oklahoma, which was held May 16-17, and where twenty triathletes became ill after swimming in the Oklahoma River, a body of water which has had issues with fecal coliform pollution.

Fecal coliform bacteria “are present in large numbers in the feces and intestinal tracts of humans and other warm-blooded animals, and can enter water bodies from human and animal waste.”

Nice. However, the bureaucratic boneheads in Oklahoma are hesitant to blame the triathletes’ illnesses on the polluted river.

Oklahoma State Department of Health spokeswoman Leslea Bennett-Webb said Tuesday it is too early to determine the cause of the illness, symptoms of which included diarrhea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain.

That makes sense. They don’t want to jump the gun on this one. Leave no stone unturned, I say. There could be a variety of causes for these ailments – for instance, maybe all twenty of them ate at Sizzler before the race. It could happen, but the odds against the illness not coming from the Oklahoma River are slim to none when you consider the symptoms associated with swimming in waters infested with the bacteria:

Swimming in waters with high levels of fecal coliform bacteria increases the chance of developing illness (fever, nausea or stomach cramps) from pathogens entering the body through the mouth, nose, ears, or cuts in the skin. Diseases and illnesses that can be contracted in water with high fecal coliform counts include typhoid fever, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, dysentery and ear infections.

Diarrhea? Check. Fever? Check. Stomach cramps? Check. The only one missing from the competitors’  symptoms is vomiting, but perhaps all twenty of the triathletes also suffer from Bulimia. Have you ever seen seen a person who does triathlons? They’re pretty skinny.

All in all, I’d just like to give a thumbs up to the organizers of the triathlon for job…done.

Hey, at least no one died this year.

About 20 triathletes sickened after OKC event [SI.com/AP]
General Information on Fecal Coliform [BASIN]