HEALTH chiefs this week urged people suffering symptoms of the gastro intestinal bug giardia lamblia to stay away from swimming pools.

The Bradford Primary Care Trust made the appeal because of the risk of the bug - which so far has claimed 53 victims in the Ilkley area - spreading further.

Only one new case of the rare and usually water-born bug has been reported in the area in the last week but health professionals are continuing to issue warnings.

The outbreak is being investigated by the Government's Health Protection Agency. The investigations continue to focus on Saffron restaurant, Station Plaza, currently closed for refurbishment, after local water supplies were ruled out.

The PCT is still advising anyone with the symptoms of diarrhoea, gas or flatulence, indigestion, nausea, stomach cramps, bloatedness and lethargy, to see their GP. The trust also advises food handlers and health care workers who show the symptoms to seek advice about continuing to work.

Giardia Lamblia is rare in the UK, and is most commonly associated with tourists drinking from unpurified water sources abroad.

People who have previously tested negative for the disease but continue to have the symptoms are advised to return to their GP for further tests.

Health experts previously said they expected to see an increase in the number of cases after they issued public advice, as people with persistent symptoms went to see their GP and took tests. The incubation period for the bug can be up to 25 days, and those who have contracted the illness may not show symptoms util then.

A letter from Health Protection Agency disease control specialist Dr Martin Schweiger to GPs in the Leeds PCT area was forwarded to the Gazette this week. The letter warns GPs across the Leeds area to watch out for patients who have eaten food at Saffron in Ilkley or other restaurants.