Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eagle Island State Park Illness Identified: Norovirus

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Eagle Island State Park will remain closed for the next two weeks while the drainage is emptied and refilled. - EAGLE ISLAND STATE PARK
  • Eagle Island State Park
  • Eagle Island State Park will remain closed for the next two weeks while the drainage is emptied and refilled.

Eagle Island State Park's water was tested and deemed safe for swimming mere days before visitors started complaining on the park's Facebook page of illness. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation saw those complaints and closed the water on July 14. 

The source of the illness has been confirmed to be norovirus, according to a press release from the Central District Health Department, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Prior tests revealed nothing because they screen for E. coli bacteria, and there is no standard water test for norovirus.

Over 100 cases of vomiting and diarrhea were reported to the Center of Disease Control July 14 and 15. Patient samples tested positive for norovirus, the most common cause of sudden onset sickness. Symptoms begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure and last one or two days without any long-term health effects.

"The virus can spread from person-to-person through recreational water, food, and direct contact with ill people," Kimberly Link, Program Manager for Communicable Disease Control at CDHD, said in the news release. "Since human stool and vomit are the main sources of norovirus, the likely source was a sick person or party that swam in the water or became ill at the park."

The Eagle Island State Park staff is now lowering lake levels and disinfecting impacted facilities with CDHD and DEQ. The swimming area will remain closed for the next two weeks. 

CDHD strongly encourages the public to stay away from area pools, lakes and rivers if sick, and for the following three days afterward. It also recommends not swallowing recreational water or getting it in your mouth, not changing diapers on the beach, washing your hands before eating and after using the restroom, and taking your kids on regular bathroom breaks.

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