Cryptosporidium outbreak latest as bottled water handed out

Bottled water arrived in Brixham after a cryptosporidium outbreak in the town
Bottled water arrived in Brixham after a cryptosporidium outbreak in the town -Credit:Chris Slack

South West Water is handing out bottled water this evening to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Torbay. It comes as 22 cases of illness caused by the parasite have been confirmed in two areas of Brixham, with residents suffering from diarrhoea and sickness.

Traces of the parasite were confirmed to be in samples of water in the Alston and Hillhead areas and people living in both places have been told not to drink or cook with tap water without boiling it first. South West Water has confirmed it will be setting up a bottled water collection station at Broadsands Car Park for locals to collect uncontaminated drinking water.

The site will be open from 7pm today (May 15) until 10pm tonight. It will also be open between 6am and 9pm tomorrow, and SWW said staff will be delivering bottled water to vulnerable customers who may be unable to get to the collection point.

A spokesperson for South West Water said: "The areas affected are the Alston and the Hillhead area of Brixham. We are currently contacting customers by door drops, SMS text messages, email, social media and voice messages.

"The information is also available on the website where people will find a detailed list of affected postcodes. Boil water notices in the form of flyers are being hand-delivered to affected customers."

South West Water confirmed today it had detected "small traces" of the Cryptosporidium parasite in water samples in the Alston and Hillhead areas of Brixham. The cause has not yet been identified but the water company says it is fully investigating what has happened. So far, 22 cases of infection have been confirmed and many more reports of symptoms are being investigated.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite which causes diarrhoea as well as stomach cramping, dehydration, weight loss and fever. Sarah Bird, consultant in Health Protection at UKHSA South West said in its latest statement issued today: “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.

"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, which can last for 2-3 weeks. Anyone can get cryptosporidiosis, but it is most common in young children aged between 1 and 5 years and most healthy people will recover fully.

“For most people, cryptosporidium symptoms can be managed at home without medical advice. Those affected should stay off school and work for 48hrs since the last episode of illness and away from swimming pools for 14 days after the last episode of illness.”

Locals living the affected area have been advised to boil their tap water and let it cool completely before consuming. This includes all water used for drinking, cooking, preparing food and even brushing teeth.