Parasite found in drinking water of rural Irish town

Parasite found in drinking water of rural Irish town

CONTAMINATION has been discovered in the water supply of a rural Irish area.

Traces of a microscopic parasite has been discovered in the drinking water supply of several towns in the north Cork area.

The highest volume of the parasite, named cryptosporidium was detected in the Ballyhooly area of north Cork, with the nearby towns of Fermoy and Mitchelstown also found at serious risk.

Audits were carried out by the environmental regulator after the discovery of cryptosporidium in the water supply of Ballyhooly and Mitchelstown north earlier this summer, and the Environmental Protection Agency found no barrier had been fitted to prevent the parasite from entering the water supply in Ballyhooly — a village between Fermoy and Mallow.

The source of the supply came from a spring of the River Awbeg, and the Cork County Council claimed that it recognised the supply's vulnerability and had reminded two local landowners within the buffer zone about their obligations under the EU Nitrates Directive.

The microscopic parasite can cause serious respiratory and gastrointestinal illness.

While healthy adults will normally recover within three days, the bug can have more serious effects including potential death for elderly and very young patients as well as those with weakened immune systems.

The EPA warned in September that some 161,000 people are at risk of illness from possible exposure to cryptosporidium.

It claimed there are 25 public schemes, which supply drinking water to homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses, that do not have adequate treatment to kill off the bug.

The EPA said the supply was classified as being “very high risk” for contamination with the potentially dangerous parasite, and has now called on Irish Water to prioritise the installation of a barrier to ensure the safety and security of the Ballyhooly supply and surrounding areas.