150 beachgoers mysteriously fall ill

Aerial view of a beach

Holidayers are being asked to stay out of the water after around 150 people who had been in the sea by several beaches in Essex, UK, mysteriously fell ill.

According to news reports, 14 people were taken to hospital but nobody was seriously ill. The still unknown malady affected beachgoers in Frinton-on-Sea, Clacton and Walton-on-the-Naze, causing breathing difficulties, vomiting and coughing.

Essex Police and Tendring Council have warned people not to go into the sea, while an investigation into the cause of the mystery illness is ongoing.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) stated that fuel pollution is not to blame. "The MCA’s counter pollution surveillance aircraft has flown over the area this afternoon to undertake an aerial survey and no fuel pollution has been reported by this flight," a spokesperson said.

Will Lodge, Communications Manager for Tendring District Council, reiterated that people should avoid the water, and issued advise for those who decide not to heed this advice: “If you do go into the water and feel unwell then rinse and change your clothes, drink some fresh water, and this should alleviate any symptoms. If you are still concerned then please call the non-emergency health number, 111.”

He said that the Council is waiting on the results of lab testing and that it is hoped that, with two tides passing through, the cause of the incident has now passed.