Managing a large outbreak of cryptosporidiosis: how to investigate and when to decide to lift a 'boil water' notice.
Harrison SL., Nelder R., Hayek L., Mackenzie IF., Casemore DP., Dance D.
The largest outbreak of cryptosporidiosis reported in the United Kingdom, involving 575 confirmed cases (of which 474 met an agreed case definition), occurred in the county of Devon during August and September of 1995. The descriptive epidemiology supports the hypothesis that the outbreak was associated with the consumption of cold tap water in the area served by a particular water treatment works. Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in treated water samples at the time of the outbreak. Although the epidemiological analysis provided strong circumstantial evidence of a waterborne outbreak, the data were not recorded in a manner that made them admissible in criminal proceedings taken by the Drinking Water Inspectorate against the water company involved. The need to carry out an analytical study in conjunction with the identification and characterisation of the pathogen in the drinking water and the practicalities of agreeing criteria for lifting a 'boil water' notice are discussed.