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Urgent diarrhoea bug warning as new 'parasite hotspots' found with cases surging across UK


Brits have been issued an urgent warning as cases of a violent diarrhoea bug found in water have been detected across the UK. Confirmed cases of an illness caused by a waterborne parasite known as cryptosporidium have reached 77 with hundreds others reportedly falling ill.

The parasite can cause a potentially dangerous illness called cryptosporidiosis which can lead to violent diarrhoea and vomiting for weeks and can be passed on from person to person.

It is found in the intestines of infected humans and animals and is passed out in their poo, where it can infect water sources such as lakes and rivers.

As reported by The Sun, the majority of those infected are Devon, however, there have been cases noted in Oxfordshire and Worcestershire over the past few months.

It is feared that further outbreaks of the bug could appear in other parts of the UK if infected people carry the virus away from Devon.

Dozens of people, including children, have fallen severely ill since the end of March.

Most of these were residents of Devon coastal town Brixham where there were a series of outbreaks earlier this month.

South West Water has since urged locals across Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North East Paignton to boil their tap water.

The potential source of the bug was identified as a “damaged air valve” in the Hilldean area of Brixham.

It appears it “may have allowed animal waste or contaminated groundwater to enter the local supply”, according to local MP Anthony Magnall.

However, infected animals can also pass on the illness and more than 80 people are seeking legal action after they caught the bug at a petting zoo.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and Wychavon District Council have launched a probe after visitors to Gannow Farm in Worcestershire over the Easter holidays came down with a severe gastric sickness.

In a Facebook post, the farm said: “We at Gannow Farm take the welfare of our visitors very seriously and for that reason we have decided to close for the remainder of the 2024 Farm Experience.

“This is a decision taken by the team and not by governing bodies, however we are working closely with them as always.

“We would like to wish anyone that is poorly a speedy recovery.”

It comes as data showed more than 44.5 million Brits were supplied water by a company that experienced at least one bacteria breach in 2022.

According to the Government’s Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), a total of 34 E. coli and Enterococci breaches took place in England and Wales in 2022.

Similar to cryptosporidium, both are types of bacteria that indicate water has been contaminated by faeces.

The data – focused on faecal bacteria detected in taps – revealed 12 breaches were recorded in the North West in the area served by Severn Trent Water.

The full list of affected water companies was Severn Trent Water (12 breaches), Anglian Water (six), Northumbrian (four), United Utilities (four), Essex and Suffolk Water (four), Thames Water (two), Bristol Water (one) and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (one).

There is not yet any geographic data for cryptosporidium outbreaks in UK water and those infected with the bug.

Symptoms

Cryptosporidiosis can affect anyone, the UKHSA says, but it tends to be worse for children under the age of five.

It causes watery and often violent diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pains that can last days or weeks.

For most people, cryptosporidiosis is mild and will clear on its own but for some, it can be “dangerous”.

Officials say it can cause dehydration, malnutrition, growth delays and cognitive impairment.

The NHS advises anyone with symptoms to stay off work and school.

No one should return until they have been free from diarrhoea and/or vomiting for at least 48 hours.

Symptoms of the bug include:

  • Profuse watery diarrhoea
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss.

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