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Cryptosporidium outbreak

Find out more about the Cryptosporidium outbreak

Update: Saturday 18 May

South West Water (SWW) have confirmed this afternoon that the boil water notice for around 14,500 properties supplied by the Alston reservoir has been lifted. This is for those properties in the following areas. This means they can use their tap water as normal.

  • Lower Brixham

  • Churston

  • Galmpton

  • Broadsands

  • Hookhills

  • White Rock

Check if your property is affected

We continue to work with South West Water and the UK Health Security Agency on this and will provide further updates when we get them.

What is cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidium is a parasite (a tiny organism). It causes an illness or disease called cryptosporidiosis. This affects people and some animals, particularly farm animals. It is found in the intestines and faeces of infected humans and animals. It can contaminate:

  • lakes
  • streams and rivers
  • swimming pools
  • untreated or poorly treated water
  • food, especially raw milk and fresh produce
  • objects, such as farm gates, outdoor boots and clothing

Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, dehydration, weight loss and fever. These symptoms could last for up to three weeks. It can affect people with weak immune systems for longer periods. There is no specific treatment for the illness which is usually self-limiting. It is important that anyone with the illness keeps hydrated.

How to treat cryptosporidiosis

There is no specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis. Most people with a healthy immune system will recover within one month.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids as diarrhoea or vomiting can lead to dehydration. This can mean you lose important sugars and minerals from your body. Your doctor may recommend a re-hydration solution. This is available from your pharmacist. If you feel sick, try taking frequent small sips of fluid. Avoid alcohol.

A simple painkiller can help with abdominal cramps. Talk to your GP or pharmacist. They can advise you on the most appropriate painkiller for you.

Reporting symptoms

Thank you to everyone who has reported symptoms so far. There is no need to report further cases at present, but the UKHSA will be carrying out further work to understand the scale of the outbreak and more information will follow.

In the meantime, please only contact your GP if you need urgent clinical care, (if your symptoms last longer than seven days, or if you experience more severe symptoms such as blood in your poo) and they may recommend taking a poo sample for testing, this will help them manage demand at this very busy time.

Do you need to stay off work or school

Yes. While you are ill and have symptoms you are infectious. You should not return to work or school until you have been free from diarrhoea and/or vomiting for 48 hours.

You must tell your employer you have had cryptosporidiosis if you work with vulnerable people. This includes the elderly, the young, those in poor health. You must also tell them if your work involves handling food.

If your symptoms become severe, contact your GP.

Cryptosporidium parasites can be found in soil, water and food. It can be on any surface contaminated with human or animal faeces.

It spreads through animal-to-human or human-to-human contact.

People can also become ill by consuming contaminated water or food.

It can spread by swimming in contaminated water (for example in lakes or rivers).

Infection is often associated with foreign travel.

Anyone suffering with diarrhoeal should not swim for two weeks after symptoms stop. It is important to shower immediately before getting in to the pool and as soon as you get out.

Recycling your water bottles

SWISCo is expecting a rise in the number of empty plastic water bottles needing to be recycled. Please avoid putting them in your general waste and recycle them. Flatten them with their lids attached.

They have set up three plastic bottle recycling points in Brixham to cope with demand. These will be at:

  • St Mary’s Park
  • Furzeham Green
  • Summercourt Way Playing Field