Contaminated water sickens nearly 500 in China

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BEIJING (AFP) – Hundreds of people in eastern China have been infected with bacteria which can cause dysentery after drinking contaminated water, state media said Monday, prompting the closure of a local water plant.

Nearly 500 people in the rural town of Baoyi — about 550 kilometres (342 miles) west of Shanghai — have developed fever and diarrhoea since late last week.

A report by the local government published Sunday found they have been infected with the shigella bacteria — a genus of microbes that can cause dysentery.

The town’s water supply has been shut down and nearly 300 people have been hospitalised, county officials said.

Video footage posted on social media by the state-run People’s Daily on Monday showed patients sitting in rows of beds in a local hospital.

Many of the patients were elderly or children, according to the newspaper.

Fears over the safety of drinking water remain a problem for much of China — including its wealthiest cities, where many residents rely on bottled or boiled water.

China’s Ministry of Water Resources had improved water supply services for 256 million rural residents across the country by the end of July, the official Xinhua news agency said Friday.

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