Connect with us


Cryptosporidium outbreak affects dozens in England



Cryptosporidium outbreak affects dozens in England

At least 46 cryptosporidium infections linked to contaminated water have been confirmed in England.

Torbay Council, South West Water, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), NHS Devon and the Environment Agency are investigating the outbreak. About 100 more cases of diarrhea and vomiting have been reported.

South West Water initially said water quality data at the treatment works indicated there were no problems with the treated water. However, traces of cryptosporidium were later found in the Hillhead part of their network.

South West Water has sent a boil water notice to around 16,000 households and businesses. People in the Alston and Hillhead areas of the network are affected, which serves customers in Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North West Paignton.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite that can cause illness and diarrhea if consumed. Drinking water can become contaminated for various reasons.

Sarah Bird, health protection adviser at UKHSA South West, said the agency is investigating the possible source of infection and putting control measures in place.

“For most people, symptoms of cryptosporidium can be managed at home without the need for medical advice,” she said.

“Symptoms include watery diarrhea, stomach pain, dehydration, weight loss and fever, which can last two to three weeks. Anyone can get cryptosporidiosis, but it is most common in young children between 1 and 5 years old and most healthy people will make a full recovery. Please stay away from school and work for 48 hours since the last episode of illness and away from swimming pools for 14 days after the last episode of illness.”

People are advised to boil water for drinking, preparing food and brushing teeth, with bottled water offered to residents.

Response to incident
Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes and South Devon, said: “It is extremely frustrating that South West Water did not respond more quickly to reports of illness, and initially denied it was anything to do with their network. I am very concerned about South West Water’s response to this situation as they are slow to act and communication with customers is very poor. This has certainly undermined confidence in our water network.”

Laura Flowerdew, chief customer and digital officer of South West Water, said: “Protecting the health of our customers and providing them with a clean, fresh drinking water supply is our number one priority and we will continue to work around the clock to ensure that happens as quickly as possible.”

Water Minister Robbie Moore said: “We need South West Water to solve this problem and ensure clean water returns to the Brixham area as quickly as possible. I will also work with the local government, MPs and other local partners to ensure the local community is supported during this time.”

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said it appears the water supply is contaminated.

Usually the source of contamination is human sewage or cattle manure. It is difficult to know how many outbreaks have occurred as the UKHSA no longer publishes regular summaries of such outbreaks.”

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)