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'I've never felt so ill - I've lost over a stone!' Stourbridge holidaymaker struck by waterborne bug

A holidaymaker who took ill after drinking infected tap water at a Devon caravan park has launched legal action.

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Bottled water collection site in Brixham. Photo credit: PA

The woman, from Stourbridge, developed sickness and diarrhoea during a five-day trip with her husband and two friends in Brixham to celebrate her husband's birthday. The couple travelled to the county on May 2 and fell ill when she returned home.

There have been almost 60 confirmed cases of people being struck down with cryptosporidium, a waterborne disease. Two people were taken to hospital. The outbreak is linked to water contamination believed to have been caused by a damaged air valve on private land.

The 58-year-old woman, who has not been named, tested positive on May 17 after suffering severe gastric symptoms, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and fainting on her return home.

She said in a statement released through solicitors Irwin Mitchell: “We’d all had a wonderful break but those memories have been ruined by my illness. I’ve never felt so ill. I drink a lot of water but luckily for our friends and my husband, they didn’t drink the tap water directly, only boiling water for tea and coffee, which probably saved them a similar experience.

“I still don’t feel well now and since this started I’ve lost over a stone in weight. It’s horrible to think so many other people have been affected. I feel so sorry for the people who live in the area.

“This has clearly been a very serious event and has been all over the news. I just hope now that I and the many others caught up in can get answers and importantly that lessons are learned to reduce the risk of this happening again.”

After taking advice from a GP she was tested and the illness confirmed.

Since the outbreak water company South West Water has been delivering bottled supplies to affected areas. Around 16,000 properties in Brixham were issued boil water notices.

Irwin Mitchell's public health boss Jatinder Paul said: “The firsthand account we’ve heard from our client concerning her illness is deeply disturbing and reflects many other reports coming out of Devon of people who have fallen ill after drinking tap water.

“Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite which can cause gastrointestinal illness in both humans and animals. It can have devastating consequences for the most vulnerable in society such as the elderly and children.

“Our client’s story is likely to be typical and as the UK Health Security Agency is reportedly investigating more than 70 cases, this could be the tip of the iceberg. It also shows that it’s not just local people who could be affected, but also visitors to Devon.

“Whilst we welcome that South West Water has now reduced the number of households required to boil drinking water, this remains a serious outbreak. It’s vital that lessons are learned going forward and that people caught up in this receive the support they deserve,” he added.

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