Norway’s Dirty Water Epidemic Kills Baby Boy, Infects Thousands

At least 2,000 residents of the island of Askøy in Norway have been registered as suffering from nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea following a bacterial infection outbreak of epidemic proportions.

Several thousand local residents in western Norway have fallen ill after the water from the drinking water reservoir in Askøy, a coastal island of Norway near the city of Bergen, was found to have been contaminated with three types of intestinal bacteria, including E-coli bacteria, TV2 reported.

Over 40 Askøy residents, including at least 12 children, have been admitted to hospital with signs of bacterial infection. The death of a one-year-old boy has also been tied to the contaminated water.

The number of residents reporting severe stomach upset went through the roof over the weekend, with around 2,000 people now registered as suffering from nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhoea. Some people have fallen ill even after boiling all their water for consumption, and several have been admitted to Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen because of severe dehydration.

Local health authorities have called on residents to boil all water before consumption, recommending that they avoid having long baths and limit themselves to a shower. The exact cause of the epidemic has not been established yet.

The Kleppe Waterworks in Askøy, the source of the contaminated water, includes a system of reservoirs and storage pools. Askøy’s acting mayor confirmed that no water tests have been taken recently in the areas where the bacteria was found.

“We routinely take tests of the water distribution system once a week,” Espelid explained state broadcaster NRK. “The testing points are based on a risk evaluation, but now we see that the upper pool hasn’t been included in the routine, he said, adding “I don’t know the last time it was checked.” According to the acting mayor, “it may have been several years since the last tests were taken at that pool, but we now must learn from what’s happened and it must be included in the programme.”

The upper pool of Askøy’s Kleppe Waterworks has a capacity of 500 cubic meters of water, or around 500,000 litres.

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