Cryptosporidium Outbreak in Devon Hospitalizes 2, Cases Rise to 46

Cryptosporidium Outbreak in Devon Hospitalizes 2, Cases Rise to 46

BRIXHAM, England (AP) – A waterborne parasite outbreak in the seaside town of Brixham, Devon has left two people hospitalized and led to 46 confirmed cases so far, prompting fears of further spread as authorities grapple with the crisis.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay revealed the latest figures to MPs on Tuesday, warning that case numbers could continue rising given that symptoms of cryptosporidium infection can take up to 10 days to manifest.

The outbreak, caused by the microscopic cryptosporidium parasite found in feces, has triggered a boil water notice initially covering 16,000 households and businesses supplied by South West Water in Brixham. Though 85% of properties have had the notice lifted, around 2,500 remain under the advisory.

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Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall, whose Totnes constituency includes Brixham, labeled the 46 confirmed cases an “underestimation” and squarely blamed South West Water for the illnesses, accusing the utility of failing to promptly warn residents.

“The anger in Brixham is palpable, the frustration is apparent, and the sheer inconvenience…by South West Water is absolutely abhorrent,” Mangnall told parliament. He demanded an investigation into the company’s handling of the crisis.

Barclay assured that the government took drinking water issues “with the utmost seriousness” and the matter would be “looked at extremely closely.” Utility incident director David Harris said teams were working around the clock, disinfecting reservoirs and flushing the network to eliminate any remaining parasite traces.

Cryptosporidiosis, the illness caused by cryptosporidium, brings diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. Though unpleasant, it rarely causes serious illness except in those with weakened immunity.

The outbreak highlights the vulnerability of water systems and need for stringent monitoring. Authorities aim to fully resolve the situation soon while determining the contamination’s source to prevent future incidents.

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