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Östersund parasite - new safety rules

Updated onsdag 16 februari 2011 kl 10.31
Published tisdag 15 februari 2011 kl 18.01
"It's resistant to chlorine"
(4:17 min)
Drilling through the ice to take a sample from the Great lake.Photo:Anders Wiklund/Scanpix

Following the mass stomach sickness outbreak in Östersund which was caused by the Cryptosporidium parasite contaminating the city's tap water , a new set of national recommendations have been issued to all municipal council authorities in Sweden in how they should control their drinking water supply.

Among the recommendations is that all municipalties adopt a protective area around the watercourses in which their drinking water is taken from. Sweden gets much of its drinking water from its lakes, sixty percent of which are protected. Sweden's National Food Administration wants this to be to extended to all drinking water sources.

Torbjörn Lindberg is the Chief Government Inspector at Livsmedelsverket, the National Food Administration in Uppsala and he told Radio Sweden that the parasites have been present in Swedish surface water for years.

"It seems that both cryptosporidium and giardia are rather common in Swedish surface water which is used for drinking water production. Östersund was the largest waterbourne outbreak of the last thirty years, about 12,000 people were affected by cryptosporidium out of the town's 50,000 population. They're still boiling their water but should it should be safe again in a week's time," Lindberg said.

Public water supplies can become infected with the Cryptosporidium parasite when they are contaminated by sewage or animal waste. Infection can cause diarrhea and stomach pain lasting about ten days.

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