July 18, 1998
ADVISORY ON SWIMMING IN PART OF LAKE SPRINGFIELD
SPRINGFIELD, IL The Illinois Department of Public Health and the City of Springfield today advised persons not to swim, water ski or jet ski in the portion of Lake Springfield which extends from the Interstate 55 bridge past the Bridgeview Park area in the Sugar Creek arm of the lake.
Concerns about swimming, water skiing or jet skiing in this portion of the lake have arisen because of a recent outbreak of leptospirosis that is under investigation by public health officials. Eight athletes who participated in the Springfield Ironhorse Triathlon on June 21 have developed clinical symptoms for leptospirosis, one of whom has been culturally confirmed for the disease.
"While there is no confirming evidence that there is a continuing problem at the lake, we feel it is in the best interest of the public to advise against swimming, water skiing or jet skiing in that portion of the lake as the outbreak investigation continues," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director.
Dr. Lumpkin added that the decision to issue an advisory was taken by the state and city because of additional reported cases of leptospirosis and after consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to state officials, concerns about swimming at the Lake Springfield Beach are unfounded since leptospirosis cannot survive in chlorinated or treated water.
"It is our intention to put this advisory in place as a precaution. It could be lifted in several days after it has been confirmed that no one else, other than the triathletes, has shown symptoms of the disease," said Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara.
Senior state and city officials, physicians, infectious disease and environmental health staff are meeting daily regarding this investigation. The lake advisory will be reviewed by this group on a daily basis.
Hasara added that she and city health and water officials plan to meet with representatives of the Centers for Disease Control within the next 24 hours to determine any future actions needed in the exposed area.
Local public health officials have been in contact with area physicians and emergency room personnel and report that at this time there have been no confirmed cases of leptospirosis in the Springfield area. In addition, local officials are contacting Springfield area athletes who participated in the triathlon to determine if they have shown any symptoms, and state officials are contacting those in Illinois who live outside Springfield.
Health officials are asking any individual who has been in the lake and has shown symptoms of leptospirosis to please contact their physician or to visit the emergency room. Symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, headache, chills and sometimes a rash. Symptoms may occur any time between two and 21 days after exposure.
Persons can get the disease by swimming or wading in fresh unchlorinated water contaminated with animal urine. The organism can enter through mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth or through breaks in the skin such as cuts or scrapes. Generally, this disease is not spread from person to person.
Early diagnosis and treatment of leptospirosis can lead to full recovery. If left untreated, the disease can cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure and respiratory disease.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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