Potentially lethal bug found in water supply

A POTENTIALLY lethal bug has been discovered in a west Cork town’s water supply, forcing a local authority to tanker in water for up to 800 homes.

Cryptosporidium, which can also cause severe diarrhoea, has been identified in the lower levels of Bantry’s drinking water.

A county council spokesman said sampling results over the past week at the treatment plant at Milleenacoola have indicated “minor levels” of bacteria.

A boil water notice had been issued for parts of the town a week ago.

The notice was issued as a precautionary measure in consultation with the Health Service Executive (HSE) after householders noticed the supply was discoloured.

“It is important to note that this low level of cryptosporidium contamination was detected by Cork County Council’s own pro-active testing regime,” a council spokesman said.

The HSE has confirmed that no cryptosporidium-related illnesses have been linked to the contaminated supply.

As an emergency measure, the council is to fast-track the commissioning of the new interim water treatment plant at Cahernacrin.

The council hopes to have this ready by the middle of next month.

“At that stage the treatment plant at Milleenacoola will be decommissioned and left on standby,” a spokesman said.

Only the lower areas of the town have been affected.

They include Slip Grove, Glengarriff Road, Marino Street, The Square, Barrack Street, Main Street, part of Market Street, part of Bridge Street, High Street, New Street, part of Marino Terrace, Harbour Road, The Quay and The Pier.

“Higher areas of the town, including Bantry Hospital and adjoining rural areas are unaffected,” the council insisted.

He said an alternate supply is being tankered in from Skibbereen.

Tankers will arrived today at the Upper Harbour View car park and outside the Bantry area council offices.

Despite not being identified until 1976, cryptosporidium is one of the most common waterborne diseases and is found worldwide.

It is typically an acute short-term infection but can become severe and even be fatal in children or those who have a poor immune system.

Senator Michael McCarthy said the discovery of cryptosporidium was a major concern.

“While the levels of contamination are at the lower end of the scale, it is crucial that the council respond urgently. The council needs to find out the precise cause of this contamination and to get it sorted out so that people can once again, drink the water from their own taps,” the senator said.


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