WELLINGTON: About 2,000 residents in Havelock North in New Zealand’s North Island have fallen ill with gastroenteritis caused by possible contamination of the town’s water supply,
After testing the local water supply, Civil Defence personnel walked door to door to hand out information to residents explaining how to deal with the bacteria the council has confirmed as campylobacter, local media said.
Schools in the area have been closed since the outbreak, and many students were infected by the stomach bug, which causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever.
The local hospital has been inundated with sick people and many of the staff have also fallen ill.
“This has been a dramatic event for us as a community. Many of our families have been affected. We’ll be really grateful when this is all over,” said Infectious Disease Specialist, Andrew Burns.
The water supply has been chlorinated and residents have been advised to boil water. The council is investigating to determine whether campylobacter in the water was caused by animal faeces.
“If we don’t find the source then we have choices, we have two choices, one is continuing long-term treatment or abandoning that site for the collection of water,” said Hastings Mayor, Lawrence Yule.
New Zealand media reported on Tuesday that 22 people remained in hospital, two in a critical condition.