School closes as hundreds struck down by water illness and 'explosive diarrhoea'

Brixham harbour
Brixham harbour -Credit:Getty Images

A school has been forced to close after contaminated tap water led to an outbreak of a severe diarrhoea bug across various UK towns. Residents in Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North East Paignton in Devon have been advised not to drink directly from their taps following the discovery of a cryptosporidium parasite detected in the water supply.

This unpleasant bug has affected many people across these areas and authorities have since instructed them to boil their water before consumption, reports the Mirror.

The symptoms of the bug include watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and in some instances, fever and loss of appetite. One primary school located in one of the affected villages found itself compelled to close until the issue was resolved.

Eden Park Primary and Nursery communicated to parents that it would remain shut as long as drinking water remained unsafe. The school, in a letter sent to parents, expressed hope of reopening on Friday, "pending deliveries and the situation".

A local woman told DevonLive about enduring the worst-ever symptoms caused by this bug. Tanya Matthews revealed: "I started having stomach cramps and explosive diarrhoea nine days ago and it has been the same every day since. I started to feel a little bit better yesterday then today [May 14] it hit me again."

Cryptosporidium is a parasite known for latching onto human intestines, causing gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses. These infections usually occur when individuals consume contaminated water supply either at home or from swimming pools.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced it is collaborating with local councils to probe the outbreak. South West Water (SWW) has confirmed that its water quality tests in Brixham have so far returned clear results.

South West Water commented: "We are working with public health partners to urgently investigate the source. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and will continue to keep customers and businesses updated."

In the meantime, emergency bottled water stations have been set up for residents.

The water firm further stated: "Customers in Alston and the Hillhead area of Brixham are advised to boil their drinking water before consuming following new test results for cryptosporidium. We are issuing this as a precaution following small traces of the organism identified overnight and this morning. We are working with public health partners to urgently investigate the source.

"For those customers registered for Priority Services we will be delivering bottled water to your address. For all customers who have been issued with the Boil Water Notice you will receive an automatic payment of £15, as part of our Customer Promise when services are interrupted."

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