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Study finds disease-causing parasites & bacteria in NE Iowa wells, springs

Scientists found cow and human feces in surface waters

Decorah, Iowa – Scientists have found signs of disease-causing bacteria and parasites in private well sites, streams and springs in northeast Iowa’s Winneshiek County. Levels were high enough in some areas that drinking a cup of water could cause gastrointestinal disease.

Luther College biologist Jodi Enos-Berlage says the findings can help visitors decide when to kayak or swim.


At the team’s testing sites, disease-causing E. coli and the parasite cryptosporidium were the most common. Luther College scientists also found widespread evidence of cow and human feces in surface waters, according to biology professor Eric Baack


Symptoms of gastrointestinal disease generally go away in a few days, but it can be fatal for children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.

Recreation is a growing industry in scenic Winneshiek County, where tourism spending amounts to $30 million a year.


Kellan Heavican

News & Sports Director

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