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Dr Brian Morgan, Eastern Health Board
The bug is more dangerous for the elderly and with serious health conditions
 real 28k

Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Residents warned over water bug
Residents are urged to boil water
Warnings are being distributed to householders
About 50,000 residents in south and west Belfast suburbs have been instructed to boil water before drinking it because of a health scare.

The Eastern Health and Social Services Board requested that leaflets should be issued to the 17,000 homes in the area supplied by the Poleglass Reservoir.

It is in response to incidents of local water being affected by the cryptosporidium bug.

What is cryptosporidium?
It is a parasite found in man and animals which can be transmitted by water supplies. It causes illness that can last several weeks, and is potentially fatal in the elderly, very young and those in poor health

People infected by the bug are prone to vomiting and diarrhoea.

In a statement the EHSSB said 54 people had been confirmed with the infection over the past 10 days.

However, it is thought hundreds of people have been affected.

The warning has been issued as a "purely precautionary measure", the board said.

It followed a series of tests on tap samples from domestic and commercial premises in the area and continuous filter samples collected from the Poleglass service reservoir outlets.

While no cryptosporidium organisms were identified in the tap samples, the filter tests contained levels of the bug which were slightly higher than the operational risk standard.

Dr Brian Morgan
Dr Brian Morgan: Cases have continued to be reported
The source of the infection has not yet been found and an investigation is continuing.

Dr Brian Morgan of the EHSSB said the board was monitoring daily the number of incidents being reported.

"They are rising alarmingly but there is a continuing level of reporting which shows the situation is ongoing.

"In the immune competent individual, it resolves itself in a matter of three or four days.

"Unfortunately in those whose immunity is somewhat less than that, the infection can last for a longer period."

The affected area is described as being bordered by Wallace Park, Lisburn and Colin Glen to the north and Finaghy Road and Hillhall to the South. It includes Lisburn town and the Twinbrook estate.

People uncertain whether they are in the affected area should contact Customer Services. The telephone number is 0845 7440088.

The board has said notices will be issued when it is considered the water can be consumed safely without being boiled.

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See also:

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
21 Aug 00 | Health
Dirty swimmers urged to shower
26 Jul 00 | Health
Material filters out pool bugs
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