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ÖSTERSUND WATER NIGHTMARE

DISEASE

Source found for stomach bug outbreak

The source of the intestinal parasite that sickened thousands in the town of Östersund in northern Sweden has been identified, according to city officials.

Source found for stomach bug outbreak

Östersund municipality believe the Cryptosporidium parasite entered the municipal water system originated in a multi-family dwelling in the city’s Odensala neighbourhood.

“We’ve found high levels of the parasite in the connection to this source. I can’t say much more. We’ve handed over the information to the police who are responsible for the investigation. A property owner will also be contacted by (municipal water administrator) Vatten Östersund,” said Östersund environmental head Jari Hiltula to the TT news agency.

The flow from the contamination source has since been shut off.

Police in Jämtland county say they suspect the building in Odensala is the source of the contamination. City administrator Bengt Marsh confirmed that the municipality has given information to the police that the source of the parasite is a single building.

According to the local Östersunds Posten (OP) newspaper, police suspect that a sewage line leading away from the building was mistakenly connected to a rainwater drainage system.

“It looks like the sewage pipe wasn’t connected properly,” Andrew Sörensson, an environmental crimes investigator with the Östersund police, told the newspaper.

The worst of the wave of illnesses caused by the Cryptosporidium parasite appears to be over. Nevertheless, the municipality’s website has received an additional 500 reports of people suffering from stomach problems.

Altogether, 11,200 people have reported coming down with symptoms likely caused by the parasite.

On Wednesday afternoon, ultra-violet equipment arrived in Östersund which will be placed in the city’s water treatment plant to help kill off the parasite.

“We’re going to work with the supplier to get it up and running as fast as we can. I don’t want to speculate about how long it might take,” said Richard Jonsson, head of Vatten Östersund, to TT.

Both the police as well as city officials involved in the investigation say it remains unclear of the building in question is the contamination source, or if there may be other sources for the parasite.

Testing to gather more evidence is ongoing.

Tests taken by police have been sent to Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science (Statens kriminaltekniska laboratorium – SKL) for analysis and the police in Jämtland expect it to take a few weeks for the results are in.

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SEX

Swedes fear ‘worrying’ rise of super-gonorrhea

Swedish doctors fear that ‘super-gonorrhea’, untreatable by conventional antibiotics, is on the rise after seeing the number of cases of the sexually transmitted disease more than double in six years.

Swedes fear ‘worrying’ rise of super-gonorrhea
The Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria is becoming increasingly resistant. Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)/Flickr
“The situation in Sweden is worrying,” Hans Fredlund, a doctor in charge of Communical Diseases and Prevention in the city of Örebro, told The Local. “We need new antibiotics effective against gonorrhea within a few years or the situation may become worse.” 
 
Gonorrhea, a bacterial infection, leads to a burning sensation and a thick green or yellow discharge from the urethra or vagina. Untreated, it can lead to inflammation of the joints and heart valves. In a small number of cases, it can even be fatal. 
 
Dr Fredlund said that Sweden had already recorded several cases of a new strain of ‘super-gonorrhea’, with bacteria resistant to azithromycin, one of the three most common antibiotics usually used to treat the sexually transmitted infection.
 
“The international antibiotic resistance situation is well known in Sweden and we have seen some azithromycin resistant strains, but also different other resistant strains,” he said. 
 
“Doctors should…always take a bacterial culture to see which antibiotic will be best for treatment. For this reason it is important that all these patients should be treated and controlled by experienced venereologists, as we do.” 
 
Fredlund's comments come after Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, wrote to all doctors this month, calling on them to make sure they were prescribing the right antibiotics, following the discovery of 'super-gonorrhoea' in Leeds in northern England March. 
 
“Gonorrhoea is at risk of becoming an untreatable disease due to the continuing emergence of antimicrobial resistance,” she said.
 
Spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex, Gonorrhoea, was until recently most prevalent in Sweden among men who have sex with men, or Swedes who contracted the disease abroad, particularly in South East Asia. 
 
But over the last decade the number of cases has more than doubled from 691 in 1995 to 1,545 in 2015, according to the latest figures from the Swedish Public Health Agency.  
 
“What has happened in Sweden in recent years is that gonorrhea has become a disease diagnosed among young heterosexual persons who contracted the disease in Sweden,” Dr Fredlund said. 
 
He warned that this could lead to a spike in its prevalence as a much larger group of people was now exposed to the bacteria. 
 
The expert said that for public health officials the challenge was that warnings about safe sex needed to be imparted anew to each generation. 
 
“Sex is a great instinct and each year there are new people starting their sex life,” he said. “Information campaigns should go on each year and safe sex messages should be given to all teenagers at school.”
 
“The most important thing is to not have casual unprotected sex,” he said. “If you have casual sex, use a condom!”