A Spate of Severe Gastrointestinal Illness Hits Coastal Community

Wed 15th May, 2024

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from PixabayAn unsettling surge of sickness has swept through the picturesque coastal town of Brixham in England, leaving hundreds of residents grappling with symptoms including profuse diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dehydration, and vomiting. Reports also indicate a prevalence of mild fever and loss of appetite among the afflicted populace.

Efforts to pinpoint the cause of this widespread illness are underway. South West Water (SWW), the governing body responsible for water quality, has asserted that all assessments of the drinking water have yielded unremarkable results. While customers are advised to continue consuming tap water as usual, they are urged to remain vigilant for any irregularities.

Speculation abounds regarding the potential source of contamination, with focus turning to the town's bathing waters. UKHSA South West, the British health authority, has confirmed 16 cases of illness linked to the Cryptosporidium parasite, with an additional 70 cases under investigation. Sarah Bird, a health protection adviser at UKHSA, anticipates further diagnoses in the near future.

Cryptosporidiosis, caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium, is known to spread primarily through the ingestion of contaminated water, although transmission via person-to-person contact or tainted food is also possible. A similar outbreak occurred in Great Britain in November 2023, with Cryptosporidium identified as the culprit.

Residents afflicted by the illness have shared their experiences on social media platforms such as the "Brixham Fish Town" page on Facebook. Tanya Matthews, a resident from neighboring Paignton, recounts the onset of symptoms in her family, describing severe stomach cramps and explosive diarrhea. Reports indicate widespread prevalence of the illness within the community, affecting both humans and pets alike.

While the duration of symptoms typically spans a maximum of two weeks, according to health authorities, recovery can be managed at home. The UKHSA advises thorough handwashing and adequate hydration to prevent dehydration among those suffering from diarrhea. Individuals experiencing severe symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, are urged to consult a healthcare professional.

Children between the ages of one and five are deemed most susceptible to the illness, although most healthy individuals are expected to fully recover. As a precautionary measure, affected individuals are advised to refrain from attending daycare, school, or work for two days following recovery, and to abstain from swimming for two weeks.

As Brixham grapples with this ongoing health crisis, attention turns to the United States, where a rare and enigmatic plague has emerged--a phenomenon not witnessed in over two centuries.

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay


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