Seneca Lake State Park Sprayground has Been Closed for Season, Gastrointestinal Outbreak Reported in Eight-County Region

State Health Commissioner Again Stresses Importance of Preventive Measures, 746 Cases of Illness Reported

ALBANY, NY, August 17, 2005 -- State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today issued an update concerning the gastrointestinal illnesses suspected to be linked to a spray park attraction at Seneca Lake State Park. The Commissioner also announced the spray park attraction has been closed for the remainder of the 2005 season.

The number of reported illnesses possibly linked to the park has grown to 746 cases in eight counties, prompting the Commissioner to again stress precautionary measures people should take to keep the illness from spreading further. The 746 cases have been reported by the following counties: Ontario (309 cases), Seneca (130 cases), Wayne (97 cases), Monroe (75 cases), Cayuga (56 cases), Livingston (50 cases), Onondaga (24 cases), and Tompkins (5 cases).

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

To date, five of the cases have been confirmed as cryptosporidiosis: one in Wayne County, one in Ontario County and three in Cayuga County. Additional tests for other possible causes of illness are pending. Of the 746 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 State Health Department is working with local health departments and the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to investigate the outbreak. The review is ongoing.

Dr. Novello is recommending the following precautions:

  • Persons who visited the Seneca Lake State Park or family members and/or close contacts of ill individuals who visited the park since July and are experiencing gastrointestinal illness should contact their medical provider and their local health department (phone numbers below).
  • Health care workers with patient contact and food workers should notify their employer if they are experiencing gastrointestinal illness symptoms before returning to work.
  • 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.

Dr. Novello also recommends that people 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:

  • Seneca 315-539-1920
  • Ontario 585-396-4343
  • Wayne 315-946-5749
  • Monroe 585-274-6079
  • Cayuga 315-253-1560
  • Livingston 585-243-7270
  • Onondaga 315-435-3236
  • Tompkins 607-274-6604