July 12, 1995
OLSON LAKE TO REMAIN CLOSED INDEFINITELY
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Rock Cut State Park's Olson Lake will remain closed indefinitely while the Illinois Department of Public Health continues a thorough investigation of factors that may have contributed to an isolated outbreak of illness.
Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) director Brent Manning Wednesday said the lake will remain closed as long as necessary to ensure the safety of those who use the recreation area.
DNR voluntarily closed Olson Lake July 6 after reports were received of eight children who became ill after swimming at the Olson Lake bathing beach on June 24 and June 25. The children, three of whom are hospitalized, have either tested positive for E. coli 0157 or have symptoms compatible with the bacteria.
"So far, we have been unable to determine the source of the bacteria," Dr. Lumpkin said. "And until we have a better understanding of what may have happened, we believe the prudent course of action is to keep the lake closed to ensure no one else becomes ill. This also gives us time to undertake an intensive investigation of the lake's environment, as well as other factors that may have contributed to this outbreak."
Dr. Lumpkin said the study will include continuing tests of the water for fecal coliform and E. coli, evaluation of possible animal sources of contamination at the lake, reviews of weather patterns and temperatures in the Rockford area, environmental surveys of the lake and surrounding area, and other studies of potential sources for the illness.
E. coli is a relatively new disease pathogen, first identified in 1982 and most often associated with undercooked hamburger. It has since been linked to drinking or swimming in sewage-contaminated water in at least three other outbreaks in the United States. E. coli is found in the intestines of humans and animals.
E. coli can cause severe illness, particularly among children younger than 5 years of age and the elderly. Symptoms of E. coli illness include bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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