HSE Figures Point To Human Source Of Bug

Latest figures from HSE West show that 19 of 24 samples of cryptosporidium taken from sick patients and sent for analysis in Wales are of human and not animal origin. The HSE said that the results do not confirm the parasite outbreak that has infected the drinking water of 90,000 people in Galway city and county is primarily caused by sewage.

A spokesperson said further sample analysis is now necessary and more samples have been sent to the laboratory in Swansea. Meanwhile, the Sewage Treatment Plant in Oughterard, Co Galway, has been identified by an RTÉ investigation as a source of the Cryptosporidium outbreak on Lough Corrib.

Residents of Galway city and county have been living with a boil order on their water for three weeks while engineers work to provide an alternative supply.

Testing conducted by the RTÉ Radio Investigative Unit on the waters in Lough Corrib show how the Oughterard plant is a continuing source of the Cryptosporidium infection.

Independent laboratory analysis has proven that emissions from the town’s 60-year-old sewage plant are eight times in excess of permissible levels. Cryptosporidium levels in the waters around the treatment plant are 60 times in excess of internationally accepted minimums.

Galway County Council representatives have expressed surprise at these findings and maintain that the plants outfall is treated to acceptable standards, but acknowledge the plants needs upgrading.

The RTÉ Radio Investigative Unit has also learned that Galway County Council officials had told members of the public that the plant’s emissions strictly complied with EPA limits.

However, this evening the Council’s Director of Services accepted that this was incorrect and in fact the plant had failed half of the tests conducted over the last five years.