Warning: Water supply contaminated with the parasite Cryptosporidium

Most North Americans and Europeans consume fresh tap water daily without any concern. These developed countries have advance filter systems, implemented chlorine treatments and/or radiation treatments; such as ultraviolet light to kill pathogens. Since the water supply is treated many would believe the source is safe. Is that always true?


This past August the water supply of several Lancashire districts in England (Blackpool, Preston, Chorley, Fylde, Wyre and South Ribble) was contaminated with an infectious parasite, Cryptosporidium. About 300,000 Lancashire households were put on alert. This parasite causes the disease cryptosporidiosis, which includes symptoms stomach cramping, dehydration, vomiting, nausea, and weight-loss. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea. These symptoms may appear after 2 days and last up to 30 days after infection. Chronic or fatal illness maybe develop in susceptible population; which includes immunocompromised, young children, and the elderly.

This parasite is a concern when it comes to the consumption of tap water because it is extremely resistant to chlorine, therefore; the chlorinated treatments have little effect on the parasite. The water company United Utilities advised everyone to boil their water before consumption.

Due this parasitic discovery panic was all over. A local mentioned, “This water thing in Blackpool is a nightmare just went to the corner shop and they were on the last few bottles!” Major supermarkets were running short bottled water since “nobody can drink the water in Blackpool because it’s contaminated and now there’s no water left in any shops.” With the high demand of water and the short supply, people were selling water on the internet for ridiculously high prices.

Water shortage in Supermarkets

United Utilises reassured the public that they were monitoring Cryptosporidium levels carefully through continuous testing. Only trace amounts remain in the source after the first week of August, United Utilities issued boiled water notice until mid-August.

This is a rare occurrence. In 2005 an outbreak of cryptosporidium affected 231people in North Wales and the Cymrus Welsh Water was fined £60,000 and spent another £70,000 to compensate the affected individuals. As for the cryptosporidium contamination from August there were no confirm cases of sickness. An outbreak was avoided due to the quick action United Utilities took.

Here’s a Brief video for your interest!

Sources of contamination (fecal-oral route):
• Animal waste
• Water sources

• Boil water
• Proper hygiene
• Wash hands

• No specific drug to kill organism
• diarrheal medicine may help slow down diarrhea
• Consume lots of water

What is your opinion on drinking tap water? Do you boil or treat your water?