State Health Department, Office of State Parks Issue Update on Seneca Lake State Park Gastrointestinal Outbreak

Public Should Take Precautions to Prevent Further Spread of Illness, 1738 Cases Reported

ALBANY, NY, August 19, 2005 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. and State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro today issued an update concerning the gastrointestinal illnesses which have been linked to the spray park attraction at Seneca Lake State Park. The dates of onset of illness range from June to the present and many people have since recovered.

Persons who visited the Seneca Lake State Park or family members and/or close contacts of ill individuals who visited the park since late July and are experiencing gastrointestinal illness should contact their medical provider and their local health department (phone numbers below).

Tests conducted by the Health Department have confirmed the presence of cryptosporidium in two storage tanks that supply water to the popular water attraction. For precautionary reasons, the State Office of Parks has closed the spray park attraction for the remainder of the 2005 season.

Additional test results of water samples from the Seneca Lake State Park beach show no health concerns with the water quality and the beach will remain open to patrons. The State's investigation is ongoing.

The number of reported illnesses possibly linked to the park has grown to 1738 cases in twenty counties, prompting the Commissioner to again stress precautionary measures people should take to keep the illness from spreading further. The 1738 cases have been reported by the following counties: Allegheny (5 case), Cayuga (79 cases) Chemung (6 cases), Erie (5 cases), Genesee (5), Lewis (1 case), Livingston (71), Monroe (143 cases), Oneida (3 cases), Onondaga (62 cases), Ontario (596 cases), Orleans (5 cases), Rensselaer (4 cases), Schuyler (10 cases) Seneca (224 cases), Steuben (5 cases), Tompkins (23 cases), Wayne (400 cases), Wyoming (2 cases), and Yates (89 cases).

The most common symptoms reported are diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache and loss of appetite.

To date, 13 of the cases have been confirmed as cryptosporidiosis: Cayuga (6 cases), Monroe (1 case), Ontario (2 cases), and Wayne (4 cases). Additional tests for other possible causes of illness are pending. Of the 1738 cases reported, many people have since recovered and those who are ill are instructed to see their physician. The reported dates of illness range from early July to the present.

The following precautions should be taken by the public to prevent further spread of illness:

  • Health care workers with patient contact and food workers who are experiencing gastrointestinal illness should notify their employer and stay home from work until they have recovered and are showing no signs or symptoms.
  • Children and staff with stomach/intestinal illness should refrain from attending day care. Day care centers should consult with their local health department for recommendations on the timing for return to the day care setting. Children should not be transferred to another day care center.
  • People should take action to minimize the chances of acquiring and spreading illness, including thoroughly washing hands after using the toilet, changing diapers or coming in contact with fecal material in any way. Also, swimmers should avoid swallowing water, especially in lakes, ponds or rivers.
  • To help prevent the spread of illness, individuals who are experiencing gastrointestinal illness should not swim while they are sick and for two weeks after their symptoms subside.

Individuals or family members who visited the State Park and are experiencing gastrointestinal illness should contact their health care provider and call their local county health department at the following numbers:

  • Allegheny 585-268-9250
  • Cayuga 315-253-1560
  • Chemung 607-737-2028
  • Erie 716-858-7697
  • Genessee 585-344-2580
  • Lewis 315-376-5453
  • Livingston 585-243-7270
  • Monroe 585-274-6079
  • Oneida 315-798-6400
  • Onondaga 315-435-3236
  • Ontario 585-396-4343
  • Orleans 585-589-3278
  • Rensselear 518-270-2626
  • Schuyler 607-535-8140
  • Seneca 315-539-1920
  • Steuben 607-664-2438
  • Tompkins 607-274-6604
  • Wayne 315-946-5749
  • Wyoming 585-786-8890
  • Yates 315-536-5160