A deadly diarrhoea and vomiting bug has been found in tap water in the surrounding area of Bristol, causing primary schools to close.
People living in Clevedon with a postcode of BS21 or BS49 have been told to boil their drinking water until further notice after the parasite Cryptosporidium, which causes watery diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and dehydration, was found in local samples.
Bristol Water, who issued the notice at around 5.45pm on Thursday, has staff going door-to-door supplying bottled water to ‘vulnerable customers’, such as the elderly and children, living in the local area.
Clevedon School and Mary Elton Primary School are closed today for ‘health and safety reasons’.
The tap water warning is not expected to be lifted until Sunday January 14 at the earliest.
Cryptosporidium can be life-threatening in people with weak immune systems such as those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants.
A deadly diarrhoea and vomiting bug has been found in tap water around Bristol (stock)
WHAT IS CRYPTOSPORIDIUM?
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that spreads via water.
The most common symptom is watery diarrhoea, which generally appears around seven days after infection.
Other symptoms are abdominal pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss.
These usually last between one and two weeks.
People with weakened immune systems are most at risk of serious illness or even death due to infection.
Most healthy people recover without treatment. Drinking plenty of fluids can help manage diarrhoea.
Cryptosporidium infection can be prevented by washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet or preparing food.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Two primary schools closed
Dean Hudd, headteacher at Mary Elton Primary School, said: ‘The two schools, Mary Elton and Clevedon, that have been affected by the contaminated water have made the decision to close on Friday January 12.
‘This decision has been based on Health and Safety reasons. We envisage that the school will be safe and reopen on Monday January 15.’
The Clevedon treatment works has been suspended and water is being supplied by other sources.
Compensation will be paid to those affected.
‘Advice to boil water is a precaution’
Bristol Water advises tap water should not be used for drinking, cooking (unless boiled), bathing, cleaning teeth, feeding pets, cleaning dishes, washing clothes or heating baby food.
Thara Raj, a consultant in health protection for Public Health England South West said: ‘We would remind people in the affected areas to follow the advice from Bristol Water and boil their drinking water and allow to cool before use.
‘The levels of Cryptosporidium detected in the water supply is low and the advice to boil the water is as a precaution.
‘If people feel unwell or experience symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting they should contact NHS 111. If your symptoms become severe, you should contact your GP.’