United Utilities has advised households in Lancashire to boil all drinking water, following the discovery of the cryptosporidium microbial parasite at the Franklaw water treatment works near Preston.
It was discovered during routine tests conducted by United Utilities, with the BBC reporting “low” traces of the bacteria had been detected.
The alert affects households in Blackpool, Chorley, Fylde, Preston, South Ribble and Wyre.
Local shops had sold of out of bottled water, according to Blackpool resident Robert Parker in a statement to the BBC.
Mr Parker criticised United Utilities for not acting quickly enough to warn of the risk to the public.
Although the company has reported that traces of the parasite were reducing, it is expected that households in the affected area will be advised to continue boiling drinking water for several days.
Medical advice states that the cryptosporidium parasite can cause diarrhoea and abdominal cramps, with symptoms more pronounced in people with weak immune systems.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it had sourced 50,000l of bottled water for the use of patients and staff.
2015 Combatting Legionella & Water Treatment conference
The 12th Annual Combatting Legionella & Water Treatment conference will take place on 29-30 September at Aston Villa Park in Birmingham.