UPDATED: Norway is known for having some of the best drinking water in the world, but thousands of residents of Askøy near Bergen were being warned on Friday to boil their water before consumption. The warning comes after scores of local adults and children in Askøy have fallen ill, and now officials have found E.Coli bacteria in a drinking water facility.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Friday morning that a one-year-old boy from Askøy who’d been admitted to Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen with an infection had died. No exact cause of death was available pending test results, but an investigation was underway to determine any connection to Askøy’s contaminated water.
“This is a tragic incident that we won’t comment on further out of consideration to the family,” Ansgar Berg, director of the hospital’s children’s clinic, told NRK.
A total of 18 people from Askøy, eight of them children, had been admitted to Haukeland as of mid-day Friday. All of them were suffering from severe diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain. “We are awaiting analysis results to clarify whether there’s a common cause behind this, to confirm or reject our suspicions that this is an outbreak of a stomach and intestinal infection.”
Local newspaper Askøyværingen reported that the discovery of E.Coli in the community’s drinking water prompted the police to launch a probe into possible environment crime. Around 70 children have fallen ill at one local school.
A total of 47 people had been examined by doctors at Askøy’s own community health center since Thursday afternoon. Anton Bøe of the municipality’s water and sewage system told reporters at a press conference Friday morning that officials think the area’s drinking water may have been polluted through a leak that allowed bacteria into the water lines.
Norway’s public health institute had been called in to help with infection control. Local officials mounted a crisis team to help the family of the little boy who died, and local residents were advised to continue boiling all water used in connection with consumption.