Lake remains closed until county completes health investigation

by: OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Blue Lake Regional Park in Fairview is closed to swimming while county healthy officials investigate reported illness of people who visited the lake last weekend.Swimming and boating at Blue Lake Regional Park remain closed while public health officials continue to investigate reports of illness from people who visited the lake the weekend of July 12-13, said Laura Odom, spokeswoman for Metro.

Park officials closed the lake to water-related activities Monday morning, July 14, after two families reported symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, rash and cramps.

Multnomah County health officials began conducting a disease investigation that involves an extensive series of interviews with people who reported getting sick and were at the lake.

After interviewing more than two dozen people, county spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti said, “The chief suspect remains norovirus.”

Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus that causes similar symptoms to the stomach flu.

Norovirus seems to be the leading culprit based on when people got sick and the length of time they stayed sick, Sullivan-Springhetti said.

Most people recover in a day or two, she said, but children and the elderly can suffer dehydration as a complication.

Routine water samples collected at the lake ruled out E. coli bacteria as a cause, and no toxic algae blooms have been detected, officials said.

Outbreaks of both norovirus and E coli have been associated with Blue Lake in the past, an earlier report stated.

County health officials will continue talking to people who visited Blue Lake over the weekend to identify what caused people to become ill with diarrhea and vomiting.

Anybody with these symptoms should drink plenty of fluids and contact his or her health care provider for treatment.

Health officials are looking at lab samples of stool and water to determine whether the illness is norovirus or something else, Sullivan-Springhetti said.

“At this point, things are pointing to norovirus,” she said.

Additional interviews and health screening results will provide more information by the end of the week.

Until the county completes its investigation and determines when it is safe to reopen the lake, Blue Lake will remain closed for swimming, boating and all other activities.

People can still use the rest of the park, including picnic areas, sports fields, a disc golf course and a nature playground.

A children’s splash pad also remains open; the water comes from a separate chlorinated public water supply, which is monitored throughout the day, according to Metro.

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