Brixham Cryptosporidium update: all you need to know

The Cryptosporidium outbreak in Brixham has caused a lot of stress and anxiety for locals and business owners to the town, and has also caused 57 people to fall ill.

Here’s all you need to know about what happened with it this week.

What’s the latest with the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Brixham?

Fishcombe Beach in foreground and Churlston Cove in background in Brixham Devon.

The cryptosporidium outbreak in Brixham, Devon, continues to pose a significant public health challenge.

South West Water (SWW) has identified a damaged air valve as the likely source of contamination, and efforts to clean the water supply are ongoing.

Recent tests confirmed that one of the main supply tanks at Alston is now free of the parasite.

However, a boil water notice remains in effect for approximately 2,500 households in Hillhead, upper Brixham, and Kingswear, as the issue is not fully resolved.

How many people have been ill so far?

To date, 57 cases of cryptosporidium have been confirmed in the Brixham area, with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reporting over 100 individuals experiencing similar symptoms.

The disease, caused by a microscopic parasite, leads to severe gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and nausea.

These figures may still rise as further cases are confirmed and additional testing is conducted.

Will more people get ill and where?

Health officials warn that more people might develop symptoms in the coming days due to the incubation period of cryptosporidium – which can range from two to ten days.

This means that individuals exposed to contaminated water before the problem was identified might still fall ill.

The areas most at risk include those still under the boil water notice—Hillhead, upper Brixham, and Kingswear.

Residents in these areas are advised to continue boiling and cooling their water before consumption.

Is Brixham still open for tourists?

Boats lining along the sea wall with colourful houses in Brixham.

Despite the outbreak, Brixham remains open for business and tourism.

Torbay’s Director of Public Health, Dr. Lincoln Sargeant, has assured visitors that effective public health measures are in place to control the spread of the infection.

While some households are still affected by the boil water notice, local businesses are taking precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of tourists.

With the Bank Holiday weekend approaching, visitors are encouraged to enjoy the area while adhering to health advisories.

One holidaymaker has sued

The outbreak has led to legal actions as well.

A 58-year-old woman from Stourbridge, Dudley, who contracted cryptosporidium while on holiday in Brixham, has sought legal counsel to investigate her illness.

After developing severe symptoms and being diagnosed with the parasite, she contacted Public Health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.

What is Cryptosporidium, symptoms, and how does it spread?

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the gastrointestinal disease cryptosporidiosis. This disease is characterized by symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and nausea.

In some cases, symptoms can be severe, particularly for individuals with weakened immune systems, young children and the elderly. The infection typically manifests two to ten days after exposure to the parasite.

The primary mode of transmission for cryptosporidium is through contaminated water.

This includes drinking or swimming in water that has been polluted with faecal matter from infected humans or animals. Additionally, the parasite can spread via contact with contaminated surfaces, food or through person-to-person transmission, especially in environments where hygiene is compromised.

Preventative measures include practicing good hygiene, such as thorough handwashing with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or handling animals.

Avoiding consumption of potentially contaminated water by boiling it before use and ensuring food is properly washed and prepared can also help reduce the risk of infection.

Public health authorities emphasize these practices to control and prevent the spread of cryptosporidiosis during outbreaks.

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