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Cryptosporidium Outbreak

In March 2007 the mains water supply in Galway City and the surrounding areas became contaminated by cryptosporidium.

It was expected that it would take a number of monthsto eliminate cryptosporidium from the water supply and a plan was put in place to source a new supply of water from Luimnagh close to Headford instead of the old Terryland plant and monitor the water supply affected.

The general public and visitors to Galway City had to use bottled or boiled water for drinking, washing uncooked foods (eg. salads) and brushing teeth, whereas bathing and other uses of water was deemed safe.


Map of the Cryptosporidium contaminated areas

Map of areas affected by cryptosporidium parasite
[Google Map] [High resolution map]



Cryptosporidium FAQs

Empty bottles filled with safe cryptosporidium free water will be safe to drink from if used within a reasonable time of filling.

Yes, but make sure the filters are designed to remove cryptosporidium. Use a quality branded NSF rated, sub-micron size ceramic filter cartridge system, preferably 0.5 micron nominal, 0.9 micron absolute, or an NSF rated reverse osmosis cross-flow membrane system with preferably final stage UV filtering, or a correctly installed and regularly serviced whole house ultra violet system preferably with twice the maximum flow rating of water use, or combination of these technologies.

Galway city and nearby surrounding areas were affected by cryptosporidium but the rest of County Galway had been free of the cryptosporidium.

Yes, but avoid swallowing any cryptosporidium affected water.

Generally this is not a problem, as long as swimming pool water suspected to be affected by cryptosporidium is not swallowed. Galway beaches were not affected by the cryptosporidium bug.

Galway City Council were responsible for the Terryland water treatment facility and took action to source water for the city and surrounding areas from the higher specified Luimnagh treatment works near Headford.

Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps, upset stomach and a mildfever. Some people have no symptoms of cryptosporidiosis. Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis can appear two to ten daysafter someone becomes infected by cryptosporidium and it usually lasts for about two weeks. Cryptosporidium may still be passed in faeces for up to two months and symptoms of cryptosporidiosis will probably be more severe if you have a weaker immune system.

When the cryptosporidium was first detected beforethe run up to the general election it became anelection debating issue. Galway city sources its water from Lake Corriband most of it was treated by the outdatedTerryland water treatment plant. The lake was contaminated bycryptosporidium and the Terryland plant was not of a high enough specification to remove cryptosporidium from the water.

Somehotels had been offering free bottled water to guests and others had cryptosporidium filtration systems installed. If safe, cryptosporidium free water was not available, then the boiling of normal tap water for one minute was another method of sterilising the cryptosporidium.

Cryptosporidium is a parasitic cyst (oocyst) causing a diarrheal illness called cryptosporidiosis found in humans, farm animals, pets, birds and fish. Cryptosporidium multipliesin the gastrointestinal tract of the host and tiny cryptosporidium oocysts are excretedin very large numbers in the faeces.

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