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Cryptosporidium outbreak in North Wales

16 November 2005

An outbreak in North Wales saw more than 1000 people struck down with the illness, after the water supply to 70,000 people was found to be contaminated with Cryptosporidium.  Many were seriously ill for a number of weeks in the Gwynedd and Anglesey areas with several pursuing legal action against the water company in question, Welsh Water.  Some continue to suffer from symptoms to date – irritable bowel syndrome is a recognised long term effect of the Cryptosporidium infection. Cryptosporidium is usually spread through consumption of contaminated food or drink, or contact with infected faeces.  The parasite has an incubation period of 2 – 5 days and symptoms to look out for include watery diarrhoea, stomach pain, dehydration and fever and while they usually last several days, they can continue for weeks.  Elderly people or young children are at particular risk of illness, and those with immune problems may also have a more prolonged recovery time