Water Boil Advisory FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Health Issues Related to Boil Water Notice Issued for City of Jacksonville Utilities Customers 

What is fecal coliform bacteria? 

This is bacteria that is found in the intestines of all warm blooded animals, including humans. The presence of fecal coliform bacteria can lead to illnesses in humans such as diarrheal illness, nausea, vomiting and possibly hepatitis A. 

How do I get this bacteria from the water? 

One way this bacteria enters the body is when a person drinks contaminated water or eats foods that have been prepared with contaminated water. Though a much lower risk, it is possible for the bacteria to enter the body through open sores and wounds that have been in contact with contaminated water. 

What are the symptoms? 

People who have been exposed to this bacteria may develop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or fever within a few days of exposure. 

What should people do if they have these symptoms? 

People should contact their physician. In cases where people are experiencing diarrhea, the physician should take a stool culture that will help the physician decide the best plan of care. 

How can I protect myself or my family? 

Do not drink or ingest the water without boiling the water first. (Boiling the water kills bacteria and other organisms in the water). Bring all water to a boil for at least 1 minute. Let the water cool before consuming. You may also use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, washing dishes, and food preparation until the Boil Water Notice is no longer in effect. 

What are the recommendations for preparing my baby’s formula? 

If it is possible, purchase ready-to-feed formula or use bottled water to prepare the formula. Any type of bottled water is acceptable. If this is not possible, boil the water, let it cool, and then prepare the infant’s formula. Baby bottles, as with all other dishes or cooking utensils, should be cleaned using boiled water. 

I usually wash my dishes in a dishwasher. Is that safe? 

You should use the water you have boiled to wash all dishes and utensils. Again, use caution with hot boiling water. 

Is it safe to take a shower or bathe? 

You can shower or bathe, but make sure that you do not get any of the contaminated water in your mouth. Following the shower or bath, wash your hands with a hand sanitizer. Again, this bacteria enters the body primarily by ingesting contaminated water. If you have open sores or wounds, it is suggested that you boil some water, let it cool so that you don’t burn yourself, and take a “sponge” bath. 

If I have a water filter on my faucet, do I still need to boil my water or use bottled water? 

It is recommended that you still need to boil your water or use bottled water. 

Is it safe to wash clothes? 


Can people go swimming in pools? 

Yes, people can go swimming, but they should not drink or ingest the water. Caution is advised with regard to small children who may not understand parental instructions regarding not drinking the water. 

Should I throw away food or beverage that was prepared earlier in the week? 

If you are concerned about possible contamination, throw out these items. “When in doubt, throw it out.” Do not give these items to your pet. 

Is ice made from my home refrigerator safe to drink? 

You should throw away all ice made from your icemaker. 

Should I boil water for my dog? 

Yes, boil the water and let it cool or use bottled water. Pets are also susceptible to this illness. 

Can you water your garden with the hose? 

Yes you can water your garden, but you will need to wash all vegetables and fruits with boiled or bottled water before eating. 

I work in a salon and my hands are in the water all day. Are there special precautions I should take? 

You should take special precaution before eating or drinking. Clean your hands with a hand sanitizer before eating or drinking anything. If you use tap water to spray hair during the cutting and styling process, it is recommended that bottled or cooled boiled water be used. 

Why are some establishments closed and others are not? 

Several different organizations permit establishments. The Health Department is responsible for permitting restaurants, meat markets, and food stands. The Health Department suspended permits for the food service establishments that they have authority over. 

Establishments such as bakeries and ice cream parlors are not permitted by local health departments. These establishments are regulated by North Carolina Department of Agriculture who is responsible for determining their operating guidelines.