CDHD: People sickened at Eagle Island have norovirus

July 16, 2014 

Kids play on the beach at Eagle Island State Park one day last summer.


Patient samples from a recent outbreak of illness at Eagle Island State Park have tested positive for norovirus, the Central District Health Department said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

More than 100 cases of vomiting and diarrhea were reported to CDHD this Monday and Tuesday, prompting the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to close the swimming area at Eagle Island. Park staff is working with CDHD and DEQ to lower lake levels and thoroughly disinfect impacted facilities.

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.

Norovirus is the most common cause of sudden-onset vomiting and diarrhea, CDHD reports.

“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.”

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.

CDHD, IDPR and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality are working to prevent further illness, but thy say 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.

There is no medication to treat norovirus and there are no long-term health effects. In general, infected children vomit more than adults. If you become dehydrated, seek medical advice.

Norovirus is very hardy and can survive in the environment; CDHD urges everyone to follow these steps:

1. Never swallow recreational water and avoid getting water in your mouth when swimming.

2. 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.

3. Change diapers in a bathroom or separate area, not on the beach or poolside.

4. Always wash your hands after using the restroom and before eating.

5. Take your kids on regular bathroom breaks or change diapers often, and use swim diapers.

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