More than 220 cases of sickness and diarrhoea caused by the cryptosporidium bug have been reported in South West England.
An illness outbreak in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire has been linked to the Oasis leisure centre swimming pool in Swindon where 87 cases have been identified since the beginning of June.
Further outbreaks have been recorded by Public Health England (PHE) in Somerset, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.
The centre was closed as a precautionary measure while an investigation is carried out to confirm the source of the infection.
Dr Toyin Ejidokun from PHE South West said: “We have had confirmed reports of cryptosporidium infection amongst a number of people who visited the Oasis swimming pool in Swindon earlier this summer, therefore a team of experts is undertaking necessary water sampling to ensure the safety of the swimming pool for all users.
“It can also be acquired by animal and human contact.
“The swimming pool is one of a number of possible exposures that we are exploring.”
Cryptosporidium, also known as crypto, is a parasite that can cause extreme diarrhoea if ingested. Crypto is found in water, food or soil contaminated by infected faeces. As well as diarrhoea, other symptoms may include vomiting, nausea, dehydration, fever and weight loss.
Cryptosporidium can affect anyone, but particularly people with weaker immune systems – in which case it can be severe and potentially life-threatening.
Health experts recommend that if you suffer diarrhoea you should drink 200ml of water after each bout.
Anyone who is worried that they have been infected by the parasite should contact their GP for a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Simon Weilding is a personal injury litigation executive at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
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