Hundreds Sick After Contaminated Water Scare In Southwest Finland

Local residents in Nousiainen started falling ill on Thursday and by the weekend, hundreds reported symptoms.

File picture of water being poured from a tap / Credit: iStock

New water samples are being taken today in Nousiainen, southwest Finland, after hundreds of people were hit with stomach problems.

Polluted tap water is suspected to be behind the residents’ health troubles.

STT Finnish News Agency contacted local residents via a community Facebook group on the weekend to ask them to self-report incidents of illness. Over the course of seven hours, more then 200 localized stomach problems were mentioned. Respondents reported the number of family members and how many were ill.

Symptoms included fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

There are more than 4,800 inhabitants in Nousiainen, which is north of Turku.

Tap Water Looks Like Lonkero

Nousiainen resident Maritta Lehvonen says that she fell ill on Thursday last week, and by Saturday the other members of her four-person family were also sick.

“Last week I noticed the tap water was cloudy and gray like Lonkero” says Lehvonen, referencing a Finnish grapefruit flavoured alcoholic drink that looks gray when poured into a glass.

The situation meant that Lehvonen and other local residents had to buy their drinking water from grocery stores. However bottled water supplies ran out out at the local S-Market and K-Market supermarkets as the sickness spread.

According to Maritta Lehvonen, neighbours were unsure at first if their illnesses were the result of a virus or the drinking water.

Today, health officials will again test the local water and results should be available on Tuesday.

Water Precautions Advised

Nouisianen’s environmental health director Kausa Nivola says that at first there was confusion about the apparent contaminated water outbreak, as other areas in the region have a history of minor stomach upsets which have nothing to do with their water supply.

The municipality suspects now suspects a sewage pipeline may have leaked into the Nousiainen drinking water supply at the beginning of last week.

Initial water samples were taken on Saturday, and a hazard notice was put out to stop people drinking tap water.

Residents are strongly advised to boil all their drinking water and water for cooking.

“There has been coliform bacteria and two types of E. coli bacteria present in the water samples, and the concentration is small but still we recommend boiling all water” says Nivola.

Municipal workers started to clean the water supply on Saturday morning and Nivola says the water should be fine by now but they won’t know for sure until the latest test results come back.