Eagle Island State Park Illness Identified as Norovirus, CDHD Urges Healthy Swimming Habits
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Central District Health Department Contact: Sarah Correll, DVM, Epidemiologist, 208.327.8624
Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Contact: Jennifer Okerlund, Communications Manager, 208.841.9198
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Contact: Lauri Monnot, Watershed Coordinator, 208.373.0461
EAGLE (July 16, 2014) - The Central District Health Department (CDHD), Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced today that patient samples from the recent Eagle Island State Park outbreak have tested positive for norovirus.
Norovirus is the most common cause of sudden onset vomiting and diarrhea.
“The virus can spread from person-to-person through recreational water, food, and direct contact with ill people,” said Kimberly Link, Program Manager for Communicable Disease Control at CDHD. “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.”
Over 100 cases of vomiting and diarrhea were reported to CDHD on Monday, July 14, 2014, and Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
After receiving reports of illness, IDPR closed the swimming area. Eagle Island State Park staff is now working with CDHD and DEQ to lower lake levels and thoroughly disinfect impacted facilities.
Results of routine water quality monitoring for E. coli bacteria at the swimming area do not show elevated bacteria concentrations and there is no routine approved water test for norovirus.
The swimming areas at Eagle Island will remain closed for two weeks to allow for drainage and refill of the lake. All other areas at the park will remain open for recreational use.
CDHD, DEQ, and IDPR are working closely to prevent further illness, but the public will play a significant role in stopping the outbreak.
“We know the hot weather is driving people to seek relief in area pools, lakes and rivers,” said Link. “However, we all have a responsibility to prevent illness in ourselves and keep our waters clean. Avoid swallowing water or getting water in your mouth and never swim when you are ill. This will help keep your family healthy and prevent the spread of disease to others.”
Symptoms of norovirus usually begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure. The most frequent symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, which can be accompanied by stomach cramps and low-grade fever. Most symptoms resolve after 1 or 2 days although people feel very sick and may vomit multiple times before improving. There is no medication to treat norovirus and there are no long-term health effects. In general, children vomit more than adults. Individuals are encouraged to seek medical advice if they become dehydrated.
Norovirus is very hardy and can survive in the environment; CDHD urges everyone to follow these steps to help reduce the spread of recreational water illnesses:
- Never swallow recreational water and avoid getting water in your mouth when swimming.
- Never swim when you have diarrhea and stay out of recreational water for at least three days after symptoms resolve. This is especially important for kids in diapers.
- Change diapers in a bathroom or separate area, not on the beach or poolside.
- Always wash your hands after using the restroom and before eating.
- Take your kids on regular bathroom breaks or change diapers often, and use swim diapers. Waiting to hear “I have to go” may mean it’s too late.
CDHD, IDPR and DEQ will continue to work to manage water quality within the park and monitor for new norovirus cases after the swimming area reopens.