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Schools across Devon have bee forced to close today after hundreds of residents were struck down by a crippling illness caused by contaminated water.

South West Water has urged people to boil their tap water until further notice after people reported a range of symptoms including watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea or vomiting, a mild fever, and loss of appetite.

Public health officials have confirmed more than 20 cases of cryptosporidium, a parasitic bug that causes severe stomach issues, in Brixham while others have complained to their GPs .

Follow MailOnline’s live coverage for the latest developments on this story and join in the conversation in our comments section

Hospitality firms have told MailOnline they fear their businesses could be forced to shut over the half-term holidays as a result of the dirty water crisis.

John Ingram of The Bay Coffee Company in Brixham said his cafe is using disposable cups instead of using the water to wash up at the moment with customers seemingly apprehensive about visiting.

We can’t give anybody a glass of water. It is affecting trade – a lot more people are just not coming out.

Everyone is now worried about getting ill.’ He added: ‘We’re trying to adapt ourselves.

South West Water contamination: Afternoon update

Good afternoon, now we’ve reached the midday point, let’s recap what has happened today following an outbreak of a waterborne disease in Devon because of contaminated water.

  • Brixham primary school closes for the day on safety grounds and other schools urge parents to send their children to class with bottled water
  • South West Water opens a second bottled water station after residents complain elderly and vulnerable residents may struggle to access the first one set up yesterday
  • Public health experts warn those suffering from cryptosporidiosis, the illness resulting from when the cryptosporidium parasite enters the digestive system, could be unwell for a month
  • Local residents have reported panic buying at shops and supermarkets as bottled water is raided from the shelves following a ‘boil notice’ with people asked to boil their water until further notice.

We will continue to bring you the latest developments and updates as and when we can.

MailOnline readers – ‘Renationalise NOW’

Our live coverage of the contaminated water outbreak in Devon has attracted dozens of comments since we launched it this morning.

Let’s take a look at what some of you have said:

English water……in all the wrong places and the wrong type……the Tory way!

Let’s be honest, these water companies aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing,and getting a lot of money for not doing so.

Too much of their profits spent on Executives Shareholders and CEO’s and not enough on maintenance and discharging into rivers.

My question is. Who is going to pay for the energy required to boil the water? Especially for a family. Are the people infected going to receive compensation? We already know where Government grants to maintain, repair and modernise the systems i.e. taxpayer’s money have gone. There is no excuse whatsoever to continue to allow these private companies,i.e. corporate business to own and control our water industries. Renationalise NOW.

You need clean water and clean waters, from rivers via lakes (and meres) to seashores, without share and stakeholder dividends.

Any excuse to shut a school these days. There are easy ways to mitigate the issue without closing down.

Public health expert – Illness symptoms could last for a month

A public health expert has warned those who have fallen ill because of cryptosporidium parasites entering water supplies across areas of Devon could be unwell for a month.

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Professor Paul Hunter, a specialist in medical microbiology at the University of East Anglia, told Sky News the waterborne disease outbreak could last for another week or even 10 days.

Prof Hunter also indicated there is ‘no specific treatment’ for the disease, which causes severe symptoms including diarrhoea and stomach cramps, meaning there is nothing to be done to shorten the length of time people are feeling ill.

Swimmers told stay out of the water for two weeks if you’re ill

England, Devon, Brixham, Brixham Harbour (Photo by: Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Swimmers in the coastal town of Brixham have been urged not to swim for two weeks if they feel unwell in the latest guidance issued by Torbay Council.

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, Torbay’s director of Public Health, gave the advice which also includes urging people to stay away from work, schools and nursery and 48 hours since the ‘last episode of illness’.

In guidance published on the Torbay Council website, he says:

We’re working with SWW and the UK Health Security Agency, NHS Devon and the Environment Agency to investigate 22 confirmed cases of cryptosporidium.’

Please follow the advice to stay away from nursery, school and work for 48 hours since the last episode of illness and do not swim for two weeks after being unwell,’ Dr Sargeant added.

Anyone with a diarrhoeal illness should drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and if they have severe symptoms like bloody diarrhoea, they should contact NHS 111 or their GP surgery.

Children urged to bring bottled water to school

We reported earlier how one school in Brixham made a decision to close today on safety grounds as it was unable to supply water from the taps.

Other schools in the ‘boil notice’ zone have remained open but asked parents last night to ensure their child has bottled water with them when heading into lessons this morning.

White Rock Primary School in Paignton sent the below message to parents.

South West Water has contacted us and confirmed that our school is in the affected area for cryptosporidium. We have been advised to only drink boiled water.

To keep our children and staff safe we are now using bottled water for drinking and cooking. We have purchased bottled water today and have been assured by South West Water that they will be delivering more bottled water this evening.

To support us, please can you ensure your child comes to school with a full water/ drinks bottle tomorrow and we will provide necessary refills using bottled water.

We have also been advised that children and adults increase their handwashing and we will ensure that this is the case from tomorrow.

In pictures: Residents collect bottled water amid South West Water contamination

Let’s take a look at what residents across Devon are expecting today following the creation of a second bottled water station to help those affected by contaminated water supplies which have left hundreds with a crippling illness.

These images were captured on Wednesday at Broadsands car park.

Alamy Live News. 2X6JX87 Broadsands Car Park, Brixham, Devon, UK. 15th May, 2024. South West Water handing out emergency rations of bottled water to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Torbay. It comes as 22 cases of illness caused by the parasite have been confirmed in two areas of Brixham, with residents suffering from diarrhoea and sickness. Credit: nidpor/Alamy Live News This is an Alamy Live News image and may not be part of your current Alamy deal . If you are unsure, please contact our sales team to check.
Alamy Live News. 2X6JXD5 Broadsands Car Park, Brixham, Devon, UK. 15th May, 2024. South West Water handing out emergency rations of bottled water to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Torbay. It comes as 22 cases of illness caused by the parasite have been confirmed in two areas of Brixham, with residents suffering from diarrhoea and sickness. Credit: nidpor/Alamy Live News This is an Alamy Live News image and may not be part of your current Alamy deal . If you are unsure, please contact our sales team to check.
Alamy Live News. 2X6JXDH Broadsands Car Park, Brixham, Devon, UK. 15th May, 2024. South West Water handing out emergency rations of bottled water to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Torbay. It comes as 22 cases of illness caused by the parasite have been confirmed in two areas of Brixham, with residents suffering from diarrhoea and sickness. Credit: nidpor/Alamy Live News This is an Alamy Live News image and may not be part of your current Alamy deal . If you are unsure, please contact our sales team to check.

MailOnline reporter Matthew Cox has written this explainer on whether residents affected by cryptosporidium in their supplies can receive compensation from South West Water.

Map: Where is the contaminated water outbreak

Here’s a map showing the areas affected by the South West Water contamination outbreak in Devon.

The largest area within the zone outlined by South West Water’s ‘boil water’ notice, meaning residents should boil water before using it to drink, cook or brush their teeth, is Brixham.

Brixham is a town with a population of just under 17,000 people and is one of the main centres in the borough of Torbay along with Paignton and Torquay.

Second bottled water station opens in Brixham

South West Water has told residents a second bottled water station has been set up this morning.

It said those living in Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North West Paignton can now collect water from Freshwater Quarry car park in Brixham, in addition to Broadsands car park.

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The firm added it would continue to deliver supplies to vulnerable people.

Residents unhappy with location of bottled water station

Alamy Live News. 2X6JXDH Broadsands Car Park, Brixham, Devon, UK. 15th May, 2024. South West Water handing out emergency rations of bottled water to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Torbay. It comes as 22 cases of illness caused by the parasite have been confirmed in two areas of Brixham, with residents suffering from diarrhoea and sickness. Credit: nidpor/Alamy Live News This is an Alamy Live News image and may not be part of your current Alamy deal . If you are unsure, please contact our sales team to check.

Residents have expressed concerns a bottled water station set up by South West Water is not easily accessible to elderly and vulnerable residents.

Brixham resident Guy Highfield, who said he fell ill last week, said the chosen location for a water station in Goodrington was ‘nowhere near’ the Hillhead area where some of those, who are affected by the contaminated water, are based.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Highfield said he picked up about ’20 homes’ worth of bottled water to deliver to others.

We’re only here because we’ve seen it on social media. Even the leaflet drop person last night didn’t tell us we could come and collect it. Get a delivery drop out to some of the elderly and vulnerable people in those areas.

While, local residents speaking to Good Morning Britain earlier today added they had dropped off water to neighbours.

One woman, named Mary, said:

There are a lot of people who are disabled, vulnerable, elderly – they can’t get to these places, so I thought I’d do my bit.

MailOnline reporters Dan Grennan and Kitty Lawton reported how the dirty water crisis affecting parts of Devon could last for up to 10 days.

Read the full story here:

Watch: Good Morning Britain report on contaminated water outbreak

Richard Gaisford, Good Morning Britain’s Chief Correspondent, has been in Brixham this morning as attention focuses on Devon following a contaminated water outbreak.

Mr Gaisford tweeted: Brixham. A beautiful place with a worrying water problem. Hundreds, potentially thousands, say they’re now sick after drinking from the local supply.’

Cryptosporidium: What is it? And how to tell if you’ve been infected?

The parasite at the centre of the contaminated water outbreak in Devon is called cryptosporidium, commonly known as ‘crypto’.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Once the parasite enters the digestive system it causes symptoms like watery diarrhoea, stomach pain, vomiting, a fever, and loss of appetite
  • Medics technically call this disease cryptosporidiosis
  • Sufferers often have to endure these symptoms for two weeks before it is finally clear from their systems, but bouts of illness can last even longer, particularly in people with weakened immune systems like cancer patients
  • Victims can also experience periods of false hope where their symptoms clear for a few days, making them believe they are finally over the infection, only for it to return
  • Most people aren’t offered treatment for crypto and instead are told to drink plenty of fluids and minimise contact with other people while waiting until symptoms pass

Residents – Panic buyers have left us with no bottled water

Panic buying water in Paignton

Local residents living in areas affected by contaminated water have claimed there is no bottled water left on the shelves in the town shops because of panic buying.

Mrs Hudson, who we reported fell ill with symptoms last week, said she hasn’t been able to buy any bottled water at all which was echoed by fellow resident Karen Chapman.

While pictures shared on social media show bare shelves in Paignton.

I have had no water all day because everywhere is sold out of bottles. It reminds me of the panic buying toilet rolls during Covid.

Local resident – I have been ill for a week

MailOnline has heard from a Devon resident who has fallen ill.

Retiree Kathy Hudson, 67, from Brixham, said she began to notice changes to her skin in the last couple of weeks.

I have been ill since last week with cramps, diarrhoea, sickness and dizziness. My daughter-in-law has also got ill.

I don’t want to know what is in the water I have been drinking but now they are saying not to wash your hands, can you shower? What’s it going to do to you?

I have been coming out with terrible eczema in the last couple of weeks which I haven’t in ages

I think South West Water made a mess for themselves by saying yesterday there was nothing wrong with the water and to keep drinking it. They should’ve been testing the water before it happened.

Public health official – We are confident source of outbreak is under control

A public health official in Devon has indicated he is confident the contaminated water outbreak will soon be brought under control despite hundreds of residents reporting illness symptoms.

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, director of public health for Torbay, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said:

This was reported as an outbreak on Tuesday morning and by Wednesday we had a credible source that it was likely to be a reservoir serving the TQ5 postcode such as Brixham and neighbouring areas.

South West Water has been investigating and continues to test. This is of course an ongoing situation, but we are pretty certain at this point with the boil water notice and ongoing investigation and remediation of water supply there that the primary source would have stopped.

What we are now focusing on is making sure we don’t have any spread from those initial cases.

Dr Sargeant added that the full picture on how the cryptosporidium got into the water supply will come after tests have been completed.

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South West Water issue ‘boil water’ notice

South West Water has urged residents in Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and north-east Paignton to boil their water as a precaution – including when drinking it or using it to cook with and brush teeth.

The water firm added bottled water stations will be set up in the affected areas as soon as possible but schools last night said they had not received any assurances when water would be delivered.

Public health officials say boiling water can help eradicate the parasite causing a range of symptoms such as diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea and loss of appetite.

School shuts on safety grounds

eden park primary school brixham

Schools have said their doors will remain shut today for safety reasons without clean water.

Eden Park Primary School (pictured above) in Brixham told parents last night that their children would have to spend the day at home, except for pupils finishing their final SATs exam this morning, after it learned it would have to boil tap water.

In a statement the school said:

The school have taken swift action to put safety plans in place and contact the appropriate authorities about providing safe drinking water.

At the time of writing this update (7.30pm), and despite repeated calls to South West Water about the urgency of the situation, the school has not received any bottled water or assurances of when water will be delivered. To enable parents and carers to make childcare plans for the morning, leaders have made the difficult decision to close the school tomorrow, Thursday 16th May.

All Year 6 children should attend the school as usual, to complete their final SATs paper in the morning. They should bring their own full water bottle and be collected at 11:15am. The school will also provide bottled water for children and staff in school tomorrow. No other children should attend the school.

A further update will be provided tomorrow afternoon, regarding the opening the school on Friday 17th May. Thank you for understanding with this rapidly changing situation.

South West Water contamination: What we know this morning

Here’s a brief rundown of what we know this morning on the contaminated water outbreak in Devon:

  • Schools in the county have been forced to close as staff insisted they could not safely open for pupils without clean drinking water on the grounds
  • South West Water has told residents across Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and Paignton to boil water as a precaution – including when drinking it or using it to cook with and brush teeth –
  • Bottled water stations were set up on Wednesday to provide clean, safe water for residents to take home.
  • The water firm initially claimed that its treatment works were not to blame but has since backtracked – prompting fury from local Tory MP Anthony Mangnall, who said its failure to act had been ‘enormously frustrating’.
  • Locals who believe they have been struck down by the parasite, which can be eradicated by boiling water, have reported symptoms including severe stomach cramps, dehydration, high fevers and ‘explosive diarrhoea’ that have crippled them and their families.

We will bring you the latest developments throughout the day.

Good morning

Alamy Live News. 2X6JX87 Broadsands Car Park, Brixham, Devon, UK. 15th May, 2024. South West Water handing out emergency rations of bottled water to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Torbay. It comes as 22 cases of illness caused by the parasite have been confirmed in two areas of Brixham, with residents suffering from diarrhoea and sickness. Credit: nidpor/Alamy Live News This is an Alamy Live News image and may not be part of your current Alamy deal . If you are unsure, please contact our sales team to check.

MailOnline will provide live updates as contaminated water in Devon has resulted in hundreds of people being struck down by a mystery illness and forced schools to close.

South West Water has urged people to boil their tap water until further notice after people reported a range of symptoms including watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea or vomiting, a mild fever, and loss of appetite.

We will bringing you the latest updates on this developing story

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