Cases of water-borne diseases in Devon could rise for another two weeks, an official says

Health officials expect more cases of a water-borne disease in Devon as an MP said “heads are rolling” over the outbreak and anger among residents was “palpable”.

The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed 46 cases of cryptosporidium infection in the Brixham area, while more than 100 other people have reported symptoms including diarrhoea, stomach pain and dehydration.

Dr. Torbay’s director of public health, Lincoln Sargeant, said that while the initial contamination of water in Brixham had been “more or less addressed”, delays in the development of symptoms could lead to cases increasing for “up to two weeks”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sargeant said: “It’s important for listeners to recognize that in terms of the initial contamination which we think has been more or less addressed, so with the boiled water notice, with bottled water, we are quite It is now certain that no one will have to suffer from contaminated water again and we know that South West Water is now actively flushing the system to ensure that there is no ongoing contamination.

“However, it is important to recognize that people can continue to develop symptoms from that initial infection for up to ten days, some people for up to two weeks, so numbers may increase, but that does not necessarily mean the situation is getting worse. worse.”

Around 16,000 households and businesses in the Brixham area were told by South West Water (SWW) not to use their tap water for drinking without boiling and cooling it first. Bottled water collection points have also been operating.

SWW customer officer Laura Flowerdew said on Thursday that a damaged air line in a field with livestock was a potential source of the disease.

Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall, whose constituency of Totnes includes Brixham, said it had been “an absolutely disastrous week”.

Speaking to LBC News, he said: “This is such a serious matter that, yes, I think heads will roll about it, but it’s more important to get the system up and running again, to make sure people have confidence in the network. instead of pointing fingers.

“We conduct the investigation afterwards and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

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“From the start of this week with a denial from South West Water that it had anything to do with them, the delay in the boil water notice coming in which meant thousands of people using the water network, to its being issued on Wednesday, and there are many people who are very sick.

“So it has been an absolutely disastrous week and the anger is palpable.”

A guesthouse manager said the outbreak had caused cancellations totaling “up to £1,000” and that he had heard “nothing at all directly” from South West Water.

Steve Price, who runs the Station Guesthouse near Brixham, told BBC Radio 4: “We had to make every contact; There have been reports from Torbay Council about phone numbers to contact but it is a shame for commercial businesses because no one has come through,” he added.

When asked how much his business had lost, he said: “Probably somewhere between £1,000 in cancellations so far, which is quite substantial.”

Sian, who runs the Sandy Toes gift shop in Brixham, said: “A lot of people are saying they won’t come down because of the water situation. Of course I am highly dependent on tourism. If I don’t have a good tourist season, I’m in big trouble.”

Sally Everton from Visit Devon said it was a “major concern” that people would avoid Brixham and the wider area.