Parasites found in tap water as hundreds of people feared ill

Parasites found in tap water as hundreds of people feared ill

Brixham in Devon is a hotspot for the cryptosporidium outbreak (Picture: Getty)

Over 20 people have been confirmed sick with a diarrhea parasite after they drank contaminated tap water. 

It is feared that hundreds more could be ill after drinking the unsafe water, with symptoms including profuse diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, and fever.  

Residents on the south coast of Devon were warned they should boil water and leave it to cool before using it to make sure the bug is killed if present. 

This includes water for teeth brushing and food preparation as well as drinking, but water can be used for showering and flushing toilets as usual. 

So far, 22 cases of the illness have been confirmed, but more are anticipated to follow. 

South West Water said tests showed ‘small traces’ of cryptosporidium had been found, with the issue affecting people in Alston and Brixham on the south coast of Devon. 

It follows a statement yesterday when they said tests had come back clear and told people not to worry: ‘We would like to reassure customers that the water supply is fine to continue to use as normal.’ 

But now they said that customers in affected areas should boil their water, and said they are ‘working with public health partners to urgently investigate the source’.

They added: ‘We apologise for the inconvenience caused and will continue to keep customers and businesses updated.’

The number of suspected cases has not been confirmed.

However, community Facebook page Brixham Fish Town has been inundated with posts and comments from residents saying they have come down with symptoms. Reports of people becoming poorly in Paignton have also started to emerge.

Tanya Matthews, who lives in Ocean View, claims every home in her street has come down with the same symptoms. 

She said: ‘I started having stomach cramps and explosive diarrhoea nine days ago and it has been the same every day since.

‘South West Water asked if I had been in the sea or a river but I have not. I also think the water tastes funny and it has been leaving a horrid taste in my mouth.’

Tanya put a post on Brixham Fish Town Facebook to see how many other people had been affected. It is had more than 1,000 comments with many reporting they are also unwell.

Kayley Lewis, who also lives in Ocean Drive, said: ’My eldest son Jacob was the first one of us to be poorly. He ended up in hospital overnight with severe dehydration on May 5.

‘Both my boys have missed a lot of school due to it too.’

People were warned not to drink water directly from the tap in affected areas (Picture: Getty)

A resident who lives in Hillhead, Brixham told how she has been bed-bound for over a week and has tested positive for cryptosporidium by her doctor.

She said: ‘I’ve been bed-bound for eight days with sickness and diarrhoea and have been signed off work for two weeks and lost over a stone in weight. It’s the worst illness I’ve ever had.’

All customers affected by the boil water notice will receive a £15 payment from South West Water, while those registered for priority service will be delivered bottled water. 

Cryptosporidiosis (known as crpyto) is predominantly a waterborne disease and infections can be caused by drinking contaminated water or swallowing contaminated water in swimming pools or streams. 

 Many people will recover on their own if they keep drinking plenty of fluids, but in more serious cases it may be necessary to treat the illness with an antiparasitic medicine.

Those affected should stay off 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.

The UK Health Security Agency said they were working with Torbay Council, South West Water, NHS Devon and the Environment Agency to investigate the problem.

A UKHSA spokesperson said: ‘Other reported cases of diarrhoea and vomiting in residents and visitors to Brixham are also under investigation and more confirmed cases are anticipated.’

To check if your area is affected, visit the South West Water website.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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