CANCER patients, whose immune systems are already weakened, are being forced to use bottled water at a hospital unit after supplies from taps were contaminated with E-coli.
The day unit for patients undergoing radiotherapy in Beaumont Hospital remains fully in use but is at the centre of an investigation to find out how the bug got into the drinking water supply.
Water contaminated with E-coli could cause serious symptoms for cancer patients, leaving them suffering diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
Although some forms of E-coli are potentially lethal, a spokeswoman for the National Cancer Control Service said identification of the strain of the bug is not carried out as part of routine water testing.
"Routine testing establishes whether any contaminants are present in the water including E-coli and coliforms. If the test does confirm the presence of E-coli and coliforms, as occurred in this instance, precautionary action is taken immediately."
This includes the isolation and shutting off of the water supply, the issuing of a boil notice and the provision of bottled water, she added. No patient has been adversely affected by the contamination but they are having to use bottled water.
The contamination was discovered on Monday morning. "The water management committee immediately initiated a comprehensive series of measures to manage the issue -- in co-operation with the microbiology department in Beaumont Hospital; the infection prevention and control team and technical staff as appropriate," the spokeswoman added.