Cryptosporidium update as Brixham outbreak hits grim milestone

Brixham Harbour
-Credit: (Image: The Greenway Group Ltd)


It is now two weeks since South West Water (SWW) warned people not to drink tap water without first boiling it in the Alston and Hillhead areas of Brixham after the presence of cryptosporidium was confirmed, but many households are still no closer to having the ban lifted.

Boil first notices were issued on May 15 when SWW confirmed it had detected 'small traces' of the organism in Alston and the Hillhead area of Brixham. The previous day it stated that all its water supply tests had come back clear and customers were told to continue to use their water as normal - despite hundreds of people reporting they were suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.

The cause of the outbreak is believed to be a damaged air valve on private land. Work is ongoing to resolve the issue. The latest confirmed numbers of the outbreak, issued by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last Friday, May 24, had risen to 77.

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At the start of the bank holiday weekend, SWW confirmed boil water notices were still in place for around 2,500 households in the Hillhead, upper parts of Brixham and Kingswear due to the cryptosporidium outbreak. It warned it would not lift the band until it was 'safe to do so'.

Today, May 29, SWW has shared the results of samples collected for cryptosporidium analysis which continue to indicate it is present in the Hillhead supply water area.

In a statement a spokesperson said: "Thank you for your continued patience with the boil water notice in Upper Brixham, Kingswear and Hillhead. After a rigorous programme of cleaning and flushing, we are starting to see continued reductions of cryptosporidium in the Hillhead network.

"We are making good progress, but there is still more work to do. Our teams will continue to work around the clock until the job is done and we can safely lift the boil water notice."

South West Water staff and volunteers distribute water to the public at a water collection point -Credit:Hugh Hastings/Getty Images
South West Water staff and volunteers distribute water to the public at a water collection point -Credit:Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

SWW is delivering bottled water to all customers under the Hillhead supply area boil water notice. Bottled water can still be collected between 7am and 9pm from collection points at Churston Car Boot Field, Broadsands Car Park and Freshwater Quarry Car Park.

Customers still affected by the boil notice have been invited to attend a community drop-in session at Kingswear Village Hall today, May 29, and tomorrow, May 30, between 11am and 4pm. For the protection of others, and in support of current public health guidelines, SWW is asking people not to attend if have any symptoms of diarrhoea, sickness or stomach cramps.