Dozens of people on a housing estate in Manchester have been struck down with diarrhoea and vomiting after taps in the area started pumping out brown water.
The Ladyhouse estate in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, had its water pipes cleaned three weeks ago by a company called United Utilities.
Since then brown liquid has started coming out of residents’ taps and a growing number of people have fallen ill with crippling stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.
The water firm said it has ‘no reason to believe’ the bug has any links to the work carried out, but pipe cleaning can sometimes cause ‘water discolouration’.
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Dozens of people on the Ladyhouse estate in Rochdale, Greater Manchester have been struck down with diarrhoea and vomiting after taps in the area started pumping out brown water
Officials are pictured at the Ladyhouse estate in Rochdale, Greater Manchester
In the meantime, cautious residents on the estate said they are avoiding tap water – and keeping the bathroom close to hand.
Jed Williams runs a WhatApp group for the area’s neighbourhood watch scheme, which covers around 550 households.
He said dozens of people in the group have complained of falling ill over the weekend.
Mr Williams, 54, said: ‘Someone posted in the WhatsApp group last night asking if anyone had been ill and my phone’s been pinging ever since.
‘There must be a hundred messages from people. There’s babies, old people, dogs even.
‘My wife’s been ill since Saturday morning. I took my dogs out for a walk on Saturday and when we got back my German shepherd took a big drink of water then was sick all over the floor.
Pictured: Work to clean the water pipes on the Ladyhouse estate in Rochdale started three weeks ago
‘The concern is that there are old people or babies that could get seriously ill.’
Benito Butler, 23, lives nearby with his partner Amy who is five and a half months pregnant and their two-year-old son.
He said: ‘My son’s nursery they had to send three kids home today most animals in Rochdale are sick. The water has never been right.
‘My partners pregnant and only drinks water, she is suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum and the water has obviously made it worse.
‘So been drinking water from then never again. Have to buy bottled water from now on after seeing this.’
Mr Williams, a driving instructor, said people are worried the water supply has become inadvertently contaminated as a result of the pipe cleaning works.
He added: ‘Everybody’s getting ill from something and the water is the only common factor. It’s not like we’ve all had the same dodgy curry.
‘We got as leaflet through the door about a month ago saying the water could be discoloured while the work was going on, but it’s been running clear.
‘But I’m going to be getting some bottled water on the way home from work – you just can’t take the chance.’
Water company United Utilities warned residents they might experience a ‘change in colour of their tap water’ with this leaflet
A United Utilities spokesman said water quality officers had taken samples from across the area and found nothing of concern.
In a statement, the firm added: ‘We have been in the area carrying out mains cleaning.
‘Mains cleaning is carried out to remove naturally occurring deposits which have built up over time.
‘While carrying out the work, occasionally it can cause discolouration which is short-lived.
‘We have no reason to believe the water supply is causing the illness reported.
‘We would advise anyone feeling unwell speak to their GP about any illness they may be experiencing.’
Water pipe repair works are pictured being carried out in Ladyhouse, Rochdale, Greater Manchester