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British Army personnel struck down by cryptosporidium outbreak at Nanyuki barracks in Kenya

It has been reported that 172 British Army personnel stationed in Kenya, at Nanyuki barracks, fell ill in an apparent outbreak of cryptosporidium, a serious parasitic gastrointestinal infection which can sometimes cause long-term health implications. 

According to the Open Forum Infection Diseases, researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Queen Elizabeth Hospital have said that all British Army personnel who were symptomatic had been made ill by the cryptosporidium parasite which, following testing, was found in contaminated water in the lakes and rivers where they swam in Nanyuki, Kenya. The outbreak happened between February and April 2022

What is cryptosporidium?

Cryptosporidium is a type of microscopic parasite that can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans and animals. It can have devasting consequences for the most vulnerable in society such as the elderly and children. 

It's commonly found in contaminated water sources, such as lakes and rivers, and can also be transmitted through contact with infected individuals or animals. Cryptosporidium infection, also known as cryptosporidiosis, typically leads to symptoms such as diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. 

The International Serious Injury team at Irwin Mitchell has vast experience of helping people who have suffered serious illness as a result of exposure to cryptosporidium in the UK and abroad. 

Military injury lawyers representing service personnel affected by illness

Irwin Mitchell's Military Injury Team also has experience of representing service personnel who have suffered similar illnesses, while deployed on military exercises. 

The team has seen an increase in new enquiries from military personnel with similar symptoms and are currently acting for a client who has developed serious spinal cord injuries, due to the type of parasite that has entered their system. 

Measures to reduce risk of cryptosporidium infection

To prevent the spread of cryptosporidium and reduce the risk of infection, the following steps can be taken:

  1. Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water, especially after using the toilet, changing nappies, or handling animals. 
  2. Safe drinking water: Ensure that your drinking water comes from a safe and reliable source. If you're unsure about the quality of the water, consider boiling it for at least one minute or using a water filtration system that is effective against cryptosporidium.
  3. Proper swimming pool hygiene: If you're using a public swimming pool or recreational water facility, make sure that it's properly maintained and chlorinated. Avoid swallowing pool water and encourage children to do the same.
  4. Avoid contact with faecal matter: Take precautions to avoid contact with faeces, especially from infected individuals or animals. This includes proper disposal of nappies, washing hands after handling pet waste, and avoiding direct contact with farm animals or their environments.
  5. Food safety: Practice good food hygiene, including proper washing of fruits and vegetables, cooking food thoroughly, and avoiding cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods.
  6. Implement proper sanitation practices: Maintain cleanliness in your surroundings, particularly in areas where human or animal waste may be present. This is important to prevent contamination and the spread of cryptosporidium.
  7. Ensure you consult your Medical Officer in the event that follow up medication is required. 

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting Armed Forces personnel following an injury at our dedicated military injuries section. Visit our international serious injury section for more on how our lawyers help others following injury or illness abroad.