Warning over water contaminated with sickness-causing Cryptosporidium parasite

A bug causing sickness including diarrhoea has been found in the area's water

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The Independent Online

Lancashire residents have been warned not to drink water without boiling it after traces of a microscopic bug which can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhoea were found.

The warning was issued yesterday by United Utilities which advised everyone living in Blackpool, Chorley, Fylde, Preston, South Ribble and Wyre to boil water used for drinking and preparing meals. 

People living in these areas do not have to boil water for bathing, flushing toilets and washing clothes, however.

The announcement came following routine tests by the company which found “low” traces of the microscopic bug, named Cryptosporidium, at a water treatment works outside Preston, which supplies the area.

The bug - less than one-tenth of the thickness of a human hair - can cause gastrointestinal illness.

Young people and the elderly are particularly at risk of getting sick from it.

United Utilities has said the health warning will remain in place until next week, according to the Lancashire Evening Post.

Residents have been panic-buying bottled water from supermarkets across Lancashire, leaving shelves empty.

There have also been reports of people selling significantly over-priced bottled water online, the Express reports.

“The advice is being given purely as a precautionary measure as we carry out additional tests today,” Martin Padley, chief scientific officer at United Utilities, said.

“We apologise for the inconvenience but the health of our customers is absolutely paramount.”

A notorious outbreak of Cryptosporidium was seen in 1993 in Milwaukee, during which 400,000 people were infected through a water plants infiltration system.