The Department of Public Health is investigating an outbreak of an infectious type of gastroenteritis in a Limerick city suburb.
The HSE is looking into 11 reported cases of cryptosporidiosis, caused by the parasite cryptosporidium, in Castletroy, including six confirmed cases among children attending the Tall Trees Creche in Monaleen.
Potentially fatal for those with compromised immune systems, the illness results in diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever.
Human cryptosporidiosis became a notifiable disease in Ireland in 2004, which means all medical practitioners are required to report an incidence of the illness to the Department of Public Health.
Cryptosporidiosis is passed on through infected water sources, farm or animal exposure or through direct contact.
Limerick’s public water supply has been tested for the presence of the parasite but it has not been detected, the HSE confirmed.
The Tall Trees Creche has been temporarily closed following the outbreak in order to break the cycle of transmission, according to owner and manager Pamela Walsh Hennessy.
“We wanted to take every precaution so our creche has been stripped back to four walls and decontaminated. We started from scratch, replacing items that couldn’t be sterilised, getting rid of items. It has been a huge undertaking but the most important thing is the health and safety of our kids,” she said.
Children attending day care centres have an increased risk of contracting the illness. This is the first case of the bug at the centre in 13 years, according to Ms Walsh Hennessy.
A control team including representatives from the HSE and TUSLA was immediately convened to manage the current outbreak, according to the HSE spokesperson.
“Parents of the crèche have been contacted directly by the Department of Public Health with relevant advice,” said a spokesperson.
The creche is expected to reopen this Thursday January 11, following its closure on January 6, but is awaiting confirmation.