At least 15 people are reported sick after visiting the beach at Deer Creek State Park, according to local health officials.
Six of those individuals have confirmed cases of shigellosis, an infectious disease that causes diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, according to Kelly Dennis, environmental health director for the Pickaway County Health Department.
Symptoms can last for seven days.
The disease is most commonly transmitted through food or water by someone who is sick with diarrhea, said Dennis. Run-off from sewage treatment can also introduce the bacteria into an environment.
Although the source of the bacteria has not been found and confirmed, all individuals reporting symptoms have one commonality: swimming at the beach between June 15 and July 17.
There have been no reports linked to the park’s campground, lodge or pool, Dennis noted.
The Madison County-London City Health District received two calls on Thursday from Madison County residents reporting sickness, said Lexi Comer, spokesperson.
The first individual visited the beach the weekend of July 15-17 and the second visited Sunday, July 24. Symptoms typically occur one to three days after exposure, Comer said.
Those individuals will be tested by their doctors, who will forward the results to the health department.
Other health departments reporting calls are Columbus City, Franklin County and Licking County.
Dennis said the Pickaway County Health Department was planning to post signs at the beach later Thursday.
“We’re not going to tell people what they need to do, but we’re going to give prevention measures,” he said.
Tips include hand washing, avoiding getting water into your mouth and avoiding water if you have diarrhea. Water can also be contaminated by diapers, he noted.
The department tested the water on Thursday morning. Results are expected in seven to 10 days.
It’s the same bacteria linked earlier this month to Long’s Retreat Family Resort in Latham, Ohio.
The Pike County Health District identified approximately 140 people with symptoms. All had recently visited the resort. Twenty out of 25 stool samples from sick individuals tested positive for shigella.
Anyone with symptoms is asked to report them to a local health department.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.
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