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Cases of Cryptosporidium rise across the South West

View profile for Subiha Khezar
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Cases of Cryptosporidium rise across the South West

On 15th May, South West Water issued a notice advising residents to boil their water before use after the Cryptosporidium parasite was found in the water supply for the Brixham area. This notice affected over 40,000 people.

The notice has since been reduced to a smaller area but, as the issue still isn’t fixed, the number of illnesses reported continues to rise and is now around 100. Residents have complained that the warning should have been given sooner. 

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that the parasite, Cryptosporidium, is "predominantly a waterborne disease". Cryptosporidium can be found in the intestines and faeces of those that have been affected and can contaminate lakes, rivers, swimming pools, untreated water and food.

South West Water are now working to clean the water networks in the area by using an “ice pigging” technique, as well as offering modest sums of compensation to those whose water supply is affected by this work.

Cryptosporidium: Who is at risk?

Anyone can get Cryptosporidiosis, but children aged between one and five years are most often affected. Individuals who look after children are also more at risk than others. Those with low immune systems are also at an increased risk.

What causes the illness?

Drinking contaminated water or swallowing swimming pools or stream water. Eating contaminated food. You can also get Cryptosporidium from affected people or animal by touching faeces when changing nappies or by touching an animal and not washing your hands. 

What are the symptoms of Cryptosporidium?

  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms may not appear until up to 2 week after exposure to contaminated water and can last for a month, or possibly longer for people who already have weak immune systems. Sufferers are advised to stay off school, nursery or work for 48 hours from the last episode of sickness to avoid spreading the illness.

How to prevent getting Cryptosporidium and passing to others?

  • Wash hands with warm water after going to the toilet or changing a baby’s nappy
  • Wash hands before preparing food
  • Wash hands after touching your pet
  • Help children to wash their hands
  • Do not drink untreated water
  • Avoid swallowing water in lakes and swimming pools

Anyone in the area with severe symptoms or concerns should contact NHS 111 or their GP for advice, says UKHSA South West.

If you have been impacted by the contamination in the South West or indeed have contracted Cryptosporidiosis or another similar condition due to contaminated water, please contact our personal injury solicitors on 0161 696 6235 for advice.