Via The Guardian: Faeces linked to gastroenteritis outbreak that hit thousands in New Zealand town. Excerpt:
Thousands of residents of a small New Zealand town in the North Island are seriously ill after the local water supply was contaminated - possibly by animal faeces.
On Thursday afternoon hundreds of residents of Havelock North in the Hawke’s Bay (population 3,000), began reporting severe symptoms of gastroenteritis such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
Many schools in the area were closed on Friday and over the weekend local medical centres, doctor’s surgeries and pharmacies were besieged with sick residents.
All schools have now been shut in Havelock North for the next two days, on the advice of the Ministry of Education.
A spokeswoman for the Hawke’s Bay Distict Health Board (DHB) said thousands were affected by the outbreak, although most people were treating themselves at home.
However, more than 50 people presented to the emergency department at Hawke’s Bay Hospital, and 18 people were hospitalised.
Two elderly people were in intensive care, both as a result of the water contamination.
The death of a rest home resident in Havelock North from a gastro-like illness was also being investigated, Radio New Zealand reported.
The Hastings District Council was criticised for not informing residents of the contamination soon enough.
It said in a statement that the contamination and resulting sickness was “very serious”, and the water supply was found to be infected with Campylobacter – most likely a result of animal faeces finding its way into the bore.
Nick Jones, a Hawke’s Bay DHB medical officer, told Radio New Zealand the council had no idea how the faecal matter entered the water supply, but they were investigating.
The water supply has since been chlorinated but the council were advising residents to continue to boil their water until given the all-clear.