Health and Wellness

School forced to close after contaminated water strikes down people with mystery illness

A school has been shut down after cases of diarrhea and vomiting struck people who may have drunk contaminated water in Devon.

South West Water warned residents in Brixham, Churston, Galmpton, Broadsands, Hookhills and White Rock areas to boil drinking water until further notice after the UK Health Security Agency confirmed there had been 22 confirmed cases of cryptosporidium.

Cryptosporidium is a diarrhea and vomiting illness that can be caught by drinking contaminated water. It can also be spread through animal and human contact.

Symptoms, including stomach pains and fever, can last between two and three weeks with most healthy people recovering fully.

Eden Park Primary School in Brixham (Google)

Eden Park Primary School in Brixham said they were closing down after failing to recieive assurances or bottled water from South West Water.

The statement read: “Eden Park Primary School were only informed this afternoon that the school was in an area where the tap water should be boiled.

“The school have taken swift action to put safety plans in place and contact the appropriate authorities about providing safe drinking water.

“At the time of writing this update (7.30pm), and despite repeated calls to South West Water about the urgency of the situation, the school has not received any bottled water or assurances of when water will be delivered. To enable parents and carers to make childcare plans for the morning, leaders have made the difficult decision to close the school tomorrow, Thursday 16th May.

“All Year 6 children should attend the school as usual, to complete their final SATs paper in the morning. They should bring their own full water bottle and be collected at 11:15am. The school will also provide bottled water for children and staff in school tomorrow. No other children should attend the school.

“A further update will be provided tomorrow afternoon, regarding the opening the school on Friday 17th May. Thank you for understanding with this rapidly changing situation.”

Residents in Brixham have been told not to drink water without boiling it (PA)

In a statement, South West Water said: “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 notice following small traces of the organism identified overnight and this morning. We are working with the UK Health Security Agency and other public health partners to urgently investigate and eliminate the source.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and will continue to keep customers and businesses updated. Bottled water stations will be set up in the affected areas as soon as possible.”

SW Water release map showing areasthat need to boil their tap water (SW Water)

Brixham, which has a population of around 17,000 people, is a busy fishing harbour as well as popular holiday hotspot.

On the town’s social media pages, many residents have been sharing concerns after suffering symptoms of the disease.

Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes, which includes Brixham, said he was aware of concerns over the quality of drinking water in the town.

Posting on Facebook, he said: “South West Water have reassured me that they are supporting the UK Health Security Agency with their investigations, and have stated that constituents can continue to use their water supply as normal.

“SWW carefully monitors drinking water supplies, and cryptosporidium is monitored continuously in the final drinking water from the supplying treatment facility.

“To confirm, all recent test results for cryptosporidium have come back clear. I will provide further updates when possible.”

The list of symptoms of the waterborne disease provided by the UKHSA includes watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, dehydration, weight loss and fever.

It is most common in young children aged between one and five years, the agency said.

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  • Source of information and images “independent

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