• Tue. May 28th, 2024

“Explosive Diarrhoea” Outbreak, Caused By Contaminated Water, Hits UK Town

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May 16, 2024

A school in UK’s Brixham has been forced to shut after hundreds of people in the town were struck down with a diarrhoea bug caused by contaminated tap water. As per a Metro report, the illness is believed to be linked to cryptosporidium, a parasitic bug that causes severe stomach issues.

The parasite latches onto human intestines and can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses. It can spread through swimming in or consuming contaminated water, but can also be passed on in food. Symptoms include watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea or vomiting, a mild fever, and loss of appetite. An expert warned that those struck down by the parasite could be ill for up to a month. 

Residents in Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North East Paignton in Devon have now been advised not to drink directly from the tap and boil it before consumption. 

Tanya Matthews, who lives in Ocean View, claims every home in her street has come down with the same symptoms. She told DevonLive: “I started having stomach cramps and explosive diarrhoea nine days ago and it has been the same every day since. I started to feel a little bit better yesterday than today [May 14] it hit me again.”

As a result, people have been panic-buying bottled water. It is unclear where the parasite came from, and how it got into the water supply.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced it is collaborating with local councils to probe the outbreak. South West Water has confirmed that its water quality tests in Brixham have so far returned clear results.

South West Water commented: “We are working with public health partners to urgently investigate the source. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and will continue to keep customers and businesses updated.”

The water firm further stated: ”Customers in Alston and the Hillhead area of Brixham are advised to boil their drinking water before consuming following new test results for cryptosporidium. We are issuing this as a precaution following small traces of the organism identified overnight and this morning. We are working with public health partners to urgently investigate the source. For those customers registered for Priority Services we will be delivering bottled water to your address. ”

In the meantime, emergency bottled water stations have been set up for residents.

Alston and the Hillhead area of Brixham
We have set up a bottled water collection point at Broadsands Car Park TQ4 6HX which will be open until 10pm tonight and tomorrow (16/05/2024) from 6am – 9pm. In the meantime, we are delivering bottled water to vulnerable customers. pic.twitter.com/qLgVYYI8qC

— South West Water (@SouthWestWater) May 15, 2024

Professor Paul Hunter, a specialist in microbiology and infectious disease, said cases would continue to climb even after the source was found.

He said, “It’s difficult to know how big these outbreaks turn out to be and it depends on whether the contamination event is a very short-lived thing. The difficulty here is that cryptosporidium can take up to about 10 days before you become ill, so even if they stop the infection today we’d still see new cases occurring for at least another week to 10 days.”

There is no specific treatment for the bug, but patients are advised to drink plenty of fluids and rehydrate.

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