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Hundreds sickened in Spain by water contaminated with parasite

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More than 450 people have been sickened in a Spanish town after drinking and using contaminated water.

Public health officials in Tarazona, in the province of Zaragoza, reported 452 illnesses since early September. Most patients have had a mild illness with symptoms including diarrhea, sometimes vomiting, and a fever.

Analyzes commissioned by Tarazona Council from independent laboratories confirmed the presence of the Cryptosporidium parasite in the Queiles River. Cryptosporidium has also been found in patient samples.

Council staff and public health authorities are trying to find the source, as well as how and where water contamination occurred, so that they can eliminate the problem. At least 45,000 liters of bottled water have been distributed to residents and schools.

Ongoing measures
The mayor of Tarazona, Antonio Jaray, called for understanding and patience so work could continue solving the problem, and then things could return to normal as soon as possible.

Companies and researchers from Madrid, Valencia, and the University of Zaragoza, where there are experts in Cryptosporidium, have been contacted for advice on control measures. Nature protection agents of the Government of Aragon and members of SEPRONA from the Guardia Civil are also involved.

Steps taken by authorities include onsite inspections in river catchment areas, tank cleaning, disinfection of specific systems, and consideration of new water treatment methods and equipment.

People were advised not to consume tap water or use it for cooking until further notice.

Symptoms of Cryptosporidium generally begin two to 10 days after becoming infected with the parasite. They include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss, usually lasting one to two weeks.

Meanwhile, another outbreak in a town in Colombia has also been linked to contaminated water.

A total of 73 cases were recorded in a hepatitis A outbreak earlier this month in Dagua.

While results from water samples were pending, officials said epidemiological information pointed to contaminated water. Investigations found one of four aqueducts was contaminated with human waste. Hepatitis A virus is mainly spread when a person consumes food or water contaminated with an infected person’s feces.

Some patients were hospitalized, but the outbreak has been declared over.

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