Confirmed number of Cryptosporidium cases in Devon rises to 46

An outbreak of cryptosporidium has been confirmed in Brixham -Credit:Fairfax Media
An outbreak of cryptosporidium has been confirmed in Brixham -Credit:Fairfax Media

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced that the number of confirmed cryptosporidium cases has risen to 46 with more than a further 100 having reported similar symptoms in the Brixham area. Further work is said to be ongoing to gather data on the extent of the outbreak.

Other reported cases of diarrhoea and vomiting in residents and visitors to Brixham are also under investigation and more confirmed cases are anticipated. The last update from the UKHSA was issued on Wednesday, May 15, when it confirmed 22 cases of the parasite infection.

It was on that day that South West Water (SWW) confirmed it had detected 'small traces' of the organism in Alston and the Hillhead area of the coastal town - less than 24 hours after stating it was safe to drink the water after all its water supply tests had come back clear.

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The infected supply area increased to other areas including Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North West Paignton. SWW has issued a boil water notice to around 16,000 households and businesses in the area, but won't give a list of affected postcodes due to 'data protection' rules.

Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall, whose constituency also includes Brixham, publicly announced on his Facebook page yesterday that cause of the outbreak is said to be a damaged air valve in the Hillhead area. He added the valve 'may have allowed animal waste or contaminated groundwater to enter the local supply'.

SWW confirmed yesterday it is 'currently focused on the water network in the Hillhead area' but has not yet divulged any further information.

The UKHSA has assured it continues to work with Torbay Council, South West Water, NHS Devon and the Environment Agency.

Dr Bayad Nozad, Consultant in Health Protection at UKHSA said: “We advise people in the affected areas to follow the advice from South West Water and boil their drinking water and allow to cool before use. For most people, cryptosporidium symptoms can be managed at home without needing medical advice and we are aware of further reports of illness above our confirmed numbers.

"Please do not contact medical services to report cases unless you need urgent clinical care. If your symptoms last longer than 7 days, or if you experience more severe symptoms such as blood in your poo, please contact your doctor who may recommend taking a sample for testing.

"Those with symptoms should stay off nursery, school and work for 48 hourssince the last episode of illness and anyone with diarrhoea should not go swimming for 14 days after the last episode of illness. This is really important to stop further spread of the illness from person to person.

"We also advise that people wash their hands thoroughly when handling food and after using the toilet, to help prevent the spread of further infection. Anyone with a diarrhoeal illness should drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and if they have severe symptoms like bloody diarrhoea, they should contact NHS 111 or their GP surgery.

"Symptoms include: watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, dehydration, weight loss and fever. Symptoms usually last for about two weeks but can be longer, especially in people with weak immune systems. Anyone can get cryptosporidiosis, but it is most common in young children aged between 1 and 5 years and most people will recover fully."

Cryptosporidiosis is predominantly a waterborne disease and infections can be caused by drinking contaminated water or swallowing contaminated water in swimming pools or streams. It can also be acquired by animal or human contact.

Further information about boil water notices can be found on the Drinking Water Inspectorate website -

Advice for the public about cryptosporidium can be found at -

Further information and advice on diarrhoea and vomiting can be found online -

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