Around 250,000 people in and around the central German city of Erfurt have been studiously avoiding tap water, scared of the bacteria which can cause a range of intestinal and respiratory problems – nasty for most people, fatal for some.
Doubts filtered into public after a parliamentary question to the Thuringia local government revealed an internal memo which suggested the test results which sparked the scare may have been wrong, Bild newspaper reported on Friday.
Experts at the Institute for Water and Environment Analytics (IWU), who did the testing, have rejected suggestions they got it wrong. “This is a smear campaign and one which I will be taking legal action against,” said institute head Dr Wolfgang Möller.
“We checked all the results thoroughly,” he said, on discovering that a spokesman from the state's ministry for social affairs, Uwe Büchner, told the Bild that a fake scare was “not likely, but possible.”
E-coli was found in one water sample, but when the same sample was tested again it came out clear, the paper reported.
Möller said this was not unusual in micro-bacterial analysis and that the institute had tested different places on different days and found E-coli bacteria.
The ministry for social affairs has enlisted a second institute to test the samples already examined by the IWU, said the paper.