Anglian customers having to boil water

July 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Thousands of customers in Northamptonshire were told last week by Anglian Water company that they should boil their water, after the parasitic organism, Cryptosporidium, was found at a water treatment plant.

Whilst the water was acceptable for baths and showers, consumers were warned that water for cooking, drinking, cleaning their teeth or even giving to pets must be boiled, to avoid unpleasant symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever, which can last up to three weeks in otherwise healthy individuals and even longer for those with compromised immune systems.

There is no cure for the illnesses caused by Cryptosporidium and it can sometimes be fatal. In 1993 a hundred people died in Milwaukee as a result of a Cryptosporidium outbreak which affected a quarter of the city’s population.

Anglian Water hopes that three quarters of the 250,000 customers affected will be able to drink water straight from the tap by July 4th and that it will be safe for the remaining 25% by July 11th. The parasite has been treated with UV light which deals with the problem comparatively easily, and the water treatment works have been flushed out.

The outbreak occurred at the Pitsford treatment works on June 25th and an enquiry has been set up to investigate the likely cause. The parasite is fairly common in farm animals which may or may not give some clue as to how this problem arose.

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is quoted in a statement on the Defra website as saying that he was impressed by the way in which all relevant agencies worked together to handle the problem as soon as it was identified.

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