The total number of cases reached 261, with technical or human failures at water treatment plants ruled out as the cause of the outbreak.
Zaragoza, September 15 (European Press) –
The Municipal Council of Tarazona (Zaragoza) announced that it maintains a precautionary approach to water use in the supply network, as it remains the main hypothesis as a transmitter of gastroenteritis, as it is the only common factor. The health department will “soon” conduct an exhaustive analysis of the water with professional companies to find protozoa and, where appropriate, the source of the water.
Nuria Gayan, Director of Public Health of the Government of Aragon, and Pedro Antonio Jarre, Mayor of Tarazona, provided the latest data on the cases at a press conference on Friday. The latest number of people affected is 261, and the possibility of technical or human failure at the water treatment plant has been ruled out.
The mayor recalled that the infection can also be transmitted from person to person and stressed the need to follow the preventive measures recommended by the General Directorate of Public Health of Aragon and to cooperate with them “to avoid this spread”.
For her part, the general manager stressed that finding the protozoa that causes gastroenteritis “is a very complex problem” because the analytical techniques established in regulations or usual protocols for controlling drinking water “do not include the detection of this organism”. . More effective water treatment measures are also being designed “to return to normal life as quickly as possible”.
Likewise, he said it’s “easier” to find it in feces than in water “because it’s more concentrated.” In this way, in order to obtain a single sample, at least a hundred liters of water would be needed “and from there concentrate the particles until we find it”, which may not be possible because “it might have been there but no longer or is no longer there”. There may never be absolute certainty or clear evidence.
“This investigation is still ongoing and will continue for much longer, but we can’t wait to act once it’s determined. In public health, we apply the precautionary principle” so that we can respond in the face of the strongest hypotheses, Gayan said. When water was a carrier of living organisms, it was decided to take measures against drinking water even though there was no conclusive evidence that protozoa still or were present in the water.
For people who live in Tarazona who are or have had symptoms of the illness in the past 48 hours, the health department recommends practicing personal hygiene and washing hands with soap and water (not hydroalcoholic disinfectants), especially after contact nor handling food or care for hospitalized patients after stool (during diaper changes), for example. In addition, infected children are advised not to attend school for 48 hours.
The Turiacen City Council, in agreement with the Zaragoza Provincial Public Health Service, has decided to close all swimming pools because of the problems they may cause, but they are not considering closing any other facilities.
According to health department reports, for the general population, boiling tap water for ten minutes can kill the protozoa. This boiling water can then be used to clean surfaces, utensils, or prepare food. If it has not been boiled before, it should not be used for brushing teeth or food, nor should it be consumed, but should be used for personal hygiene.
There are no risks in going to a hairdresser and there is no issue of closing cafes, bars or hotel venues. These businesses are advised to use dishwashers at the highest temperature or disposable cutlery, and fruits are advised to be peeled and eaten.
Therefore, it is important to drink bottled water, which excludes the use of tankers. “We are working hard to provide additional services to vulnerable groups, people who cannot go to supermarkets, and there are currently no water supply issues,” Mayor Tarazona said.
The results of laboratory cultures of the patient’s stool made it possible to identify the causative agent of the gastroenteritis outbreak: it was a protozoan of the genus Cryptosporidium. The protozoa’s oocysts are found in the intestines of humans or livestock and can contaminate water, leading to community outbreaks such as the one in Tarazona.
Investigations are currently underway to see if this has also occurred in nearby areas, about which Nuria Gayán said: “Cryptosporidium diarrhea is an emerging notifiable disease and when the laboratory diagnoses this When a disease is detected, it is announced and the information is sent to the National Center for Epidemiology.”
He made it clear that towns on the banks of the Navarre River do not draw water from the same location as Tarazona and that those that do “are not currently affected.”
Spain is not the only country experiencing these outbreaks, “especially in the UK, this is an emerging disease and we will have to live with more and more of it, which will also force us to review our preventive measures.” Action Agreement. Because she won’t be the only one. ” There are also cases in Italy, with a small outbreak currently occurring in the Andalusian town of Baena.
It is a microorganism that is transmitted through cysts that are very resistant. When a cyst is swallowed, it opens and microorganisms colonize the cells of the intestinal wall where they live, creating new cysts that are passed in the stool and cause diarrhea. In the larval stage, its life cycle is two days.