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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Water bug source 'identified'
The cryptosporidium bug
The cryptosporidium cases are mostly in Belfast.
The Northern Ireland Water Service has said it has identified the source of infection of the cryptosporidium bug which has caused widespread illness in Belfast.

The team investigating the outbreak believes it has traced its origins to the Dunore Point Water Treatment Plant on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh.

It is understood the contamination was caused by a blocked drain which allowed untreated water into the filtration system.

The cryptosporidium parasite can cause vomiting and chronic diarrhoea, and is particularly debilitating for the elderly, young children and the sick.

Dr Brian Morgan, the Eastern Board's consultant in communicable disease control, said he was satisfied that there was no further risk from drinking tap water.

Dr Brian Morgan
Dr Brian Morgan: Water is `absolutely safe'

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: "I think this must be described as a very unusual set of circumstances, which in fact resulted in a combination of events - of themselves each unusual - which combined to cause a contamination which is extremely unusual.

"I am absolutely convinced that the water supplied to the Belfast population now is absolutely safe.''

The discovery follows an increase in the number of cases of the stomach bug in south and west Belfast.

The Eastern Health Board, which serves the eastern part of Northern Ireland, has recorded 97 cases so far this year.

Eighty of those cases have emerged since the end of February.

There had been earlier calls for Northern Ireland Health Minister Bairbre de Brun to take action to control the outbreak.

A special team had been set up at the Water Service's Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre to investigate the new outbreak.

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See also:

21 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Stomach bug increase in Belfast
01 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Bug warning extended
31 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Residents warned over water bug
22 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Health warning on bug
03 Nov 98 | Health
Clampdown on water bugs
18 Apr 00 | UK
Sheep infect drinking water
18 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Investigations into water bug
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