THE outbreak of a vomiting bug that closed Newport Centre pool may be more widespread than health officials first thought.
The pool was closed last Thursday, after seven out of 14 people in Gwent who contracted cryptosporidiosis – which can cause watery diarrhoea, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, and fever – since mid-August, were found to have used the pool.
The results of water samples confirmed the presence of the bug cryptosporidium at the pool and the outbreak was made public on Tuesday.
Newport council originally stated the pool was closed for “essential maintenance” a week before the outbreak was revealed.
But it said it had no evidence of the bug at this time and closed the pool as a precaution.
Since our story yesterday four people who have either not been to their GP or been tested for cryptosporidiosis have since contacted the Argus concerned at having fallen ill after using the pool.
Rob Wigmore, of Newport, went to the pool on Saturday, September 1 and started getting what he described as “cold sweats” soon afterwards.
He too has not sought help from his GP, but said: “It developed into much worse than a stomach bug and I’ve lost about half a stone.
“At one stage the sentences were getting disjointed when I spoke and the fever has felt very different.”
Ian Thomas, from St Julians, Newport, is only just recovering from more than two weeks of intermittent sickness and diarrhoea.
He is an occasional user of the pool and last went there in mid-August, falling ill a few days later.
“It’s been very unpleasant but I just thought it was something nasty I could have picked up from anywhere.
But reading about the symptoms, they are a perfect fit,” he said.
Another woman swimmer from Newport has lost almost a stone in weight in less than two weeks and is asking her GP to be tested for the disease.
She fell ill five days after a swimming party at the pool for her son’s birthday on August 26, and had been off work from her café job after being what she described as “violently ill”.
“I can’t shake it. One day I feel like I’m getting better, then it comes back and I can’t keep anything down,” she said.
A fourth pool user, also from Newport, said: “I’ve had a stomach bug for two weeks.
“The symptoms came on quick and are the same as for this bug,” he said.
Deep clean before reopening
A NEWPORT council spokeswoman said when the pool was closed on September 6 there was no definite link between the bug and the pool.
She added: “As soon as it was confirmed there was a presence of cryptosporidium in the water we immediately communicated this finding. To have done so before would have been premature without the full facts.” She said the pool will now be drained and deep cleaned and would only reopen when the council was 100 per cent confident that no-one is at risk.
A spokeswoman for Public Health Wales said the matter was not made public earlier until all cases were confirmed and a potential link between them was found.
She said more people may have been affected but it was currently only treating the situation as an outbreak involving 14 confirmed cases.
Anyone with concerns about their health, particularly in light of the cryptosporidiosis outbreak, should contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.
COMMENT: Better to be open earlier
THE closure of the Newport Centre swimming pool following an outbreak of a sickness bug is, of course, entirely the right course of action by the city council.
We have a concern, however, over the timings of the pool closure and the announcement that the cryptosporidiosis bug had been discovered in water samples.
The pool was closed last Thursday. At the time, the council posted a message on Twitter saying the closure was for ‘essential maintenance’.
On Tuesday came the news the real reason for the closure was the bug outbreak.
We do not suggest there was anything untoward in this, nor do we advocate causing unnecessary concern or panic among pool users. But we think it would have been better to have explained to the public the reason for the closure at the earliest opportunity, even if the link between the sickness outbreak and the pool was as yet unproven.
The question now is how long will the pool be closed and, more importantly, how many people have been made ill by swimming there.
Public Health Wales said initially that seven of the 14 cases were linked to the pool, though a further four people have contacted this newspaper since we reported the closure.
There is every chance more people have had the bug but not linked it to swimming at the pool and not gone to their GP.