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A small amount of E.coli bacteria was detected in Fleurimont Hospital’s drinking water pipes, triggering a boil water advisory for the facility on Friday.

Fleurimont is part of the Sherbrooke University Hospital Centre.

The region’s health board advised against using the hospital’s water for drinking, brushing teeth or preparing food. Hospital management said measures have been put in place to supply drinking water to its various services, including kitchens, as well as for consumptions by users, visitors and staff members.

Dr. Eric Lampron-Goulet, a specialist in public health with the regional health board, said officials were advised about the positive test on Thursday.

"Right after the test arrived positive preventative measures were put in place very rapidly during the afternoon," he said. "It's regular testing in this kind of distribution system, we test (at least) once per week."

Lampron-Goulet said contamination could have taken place between July 21 and Aug. 1.

"People who went to the hospital between these dates and consumed tap water could have been exposed. The risk is very low because the quantity of bacteria found is very low," he said.

He added that some employees have displayed signs of gastoenteritis but no more than usual and the symptoms have not escalated. 

Symptoms of E.coli contamination include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, loss of appetite and mild dehydration. 

City officials said superchlorination of water was ongoing on Friday morning for the area around the hospital, so tap water may have a stronger smell or taste but is safe to drink.

The exact cause of the situation is being investigated by the City of Sherbrooke and Quebec Environment Ministry.