Private Bag 911, Timaru
Telephone 03 687 2100
Facsimile 03 688 0238
23 April 2018
By email: [FYI request #7522 email]
Dear Lyn RE:
Official Information request - Positive diagnoses of E.coli in South Canterbury
Thank you for your request for information from the South Canterbury District Health Board
which you sent via the For Your Information website on 27 March 2018. The information you
requested was as follows:
Please supply me with statistics for all positive diagnoses of E.coli in the South
Canterbury region for at least 2015-18, along with the region (i.e., enough detail to
determine which water supply each patient was on). I would like 'very likely' (c.f.,
positive) diagnoses also, if possible, but kept distinct from positive diagnoses.
Escherichia coli (E. coli)
bacteria are a group of bacteria that live in the intestines of warm-
blooded animals, including humans. Many strains of E. coli
live in the intestines of healthy
people and do not cause illness. However, some strains of E. coli
can cause illness, including
serious illness requiring hospitalisation. The only type of illness due to E. coli
that must be
notified to the Medical Officer of Health is disease caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
(STEC), also known as Verotoxin-producing E.coli
(VTEC). This is a very serious infection,
particularly in young children.
As such, we can only provide statistics on notified cases of STEC/VTEC in the South
Canterbury region (see table below). This table shows the number of cases which were
classed as confirmed (there were no probable cases) over the period you have asked about.
These data are grouped by territorial local authority region. Providing further details of the
addresses of these individual cases could potentially impinge on their privacy, so we decline
to do so pursuant to section 9 (2)(a) of the Official Information Act 1982. STEC Cases in South Canterbury Region (01/01/15 to 17/04/18)
Territorial Local Authority
Total South Canterbury
is measured in drinking water supplies as part of the process of determining whether
the water is safe to drink. This is described in the Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand
2005 (Revised 2008). However, E. coli
is not measured to assess the risk from E. coli
Rather, it is used as indicator of the risk of disease-causing bacteria being present. Since E.
is found in faeces, its presence in drinking water suggests that the water has been
contaminated with faeces and that there may be other disease-causing bacteria in the water,
for example, Campylobacter.
I trust that this satisfies your interest in the matter.
Teresa Heap EA to Chief Executive Officer