July 23, 1998
EXPANDED LAKE ADVISORY
SPRINGFIELD, IL The Illinois Department of Public Health and the City of Springfield today announced an expansion of the leptospirosis advisory to include all of Lake Springfield, except for Lake Springfield Beach. It warns persons not to swim, jet ski or water ski in the lake.
The advisory was expanded after health officials identified 13 suspected cases of leptospirosis in Illinois residents who were not participants in the June 21 Springfield Iron Horse Triathlon. These cases had dates of exposure running from June 13 to July 13.
"With this new evidence that the leptospirosis problem at the lake extends beyond this one incident, we feel it is in the best interest of the public to expand the advisory," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director.
"The common denominator of the 13 new cases is still the area of the lake west of I-55," said Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara. "But, because there are so many unknowns at this time and the investigation is still in the fact finding mode, we are not going to take any chances."
In addition to the advisory, the state health department is ordering the closure of ten additional public beaches on the lake. Two were closed after the initial advisory was issued last week.
Lake Springfield Beach, the only public beach under the jurisdiction of the City of Springfield, will remain open, since leptospirosis cannot survive in chlorinated or treated water. In addition, there is no danger to the drinking water because it is also treated.
Public health officials have been investigating an outbreak of suspected leptospirosis among individuals who participated in the Springfield triathlon and a Madison, Wisconsin triathlon held on July 5.
Thirty-six suspect cases of leptospirosis have been reported among Illinois residents who participated in the Springfield triathlon. Specimens from three Illinois participants have tested positive for the disease.
State and Springfield health officials have interviewed 353 of the 362 Illinois participants in the triathlon to see if they are exhibiting symptoms of the disease and to survey them for possible exposure sources.
Two officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been in Springfield since Sunday to help with the investigation. Mayor Hasara stated that another CDC investigator has been requested and will be assigned to assist the Springfield Department of Public Health with its portion of the investigation.
Senior state and city officials, physicians, infectious disease and environmental health staff have been meeting daily on this investigation. The lake advisory will continue to be reviewed by this group.
Health officials reiterated that any individual who has been in the lake and has shown symptoms of leptospirosis to please contact their physician, contact the Public Health Department or seek medical treatment. The Springfield Department of Public Health is open to the public from 8:00 - 4:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, from 8:00 - 6:30 on Monday and Thursday; and by telephone from 9:00 to 4:00 on Saturday and Sunday at 789-2182. Symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, headache, chills and muscle aches. 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.
(Editor's Note: A new CDC case definition has resulted in the number of Illinois suspect cases being revised downward.)
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Questions or Comments