Illness traced to New York waterpark


2,000 people have reported symptoms

NEW YORK -- More than 2,000 people in 24 New York counties have shown symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness traced to a water attraction at the Seneca Lake State Park in upstate New York, state health officials said Monday.

State and private laboratories have confirmed 39 cases of cryptosporidiosis, a diarrheal disease caused by the parasite cryptosporidium, said Robert Kenny, spokesman for the New York State Department of Health. Reports were still coming in, and health officials are focusing on trying to stop the outbreak from spreading, he said.

Health investigators have linked the cases to the park's sprayground -- an 11,000 square-foot play area with water jets that visitors can walk or run through to get relief from the summer heat.

The state parks department closed the sprayground August 15 after the health department notified managers that they had linked reports of illness to the attraction.

Cryptosporidium is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in humans in the United States, according to the CDC. The state health department found the organism in two storage tanks that supply water to the attraction.

Tests of the lake area of the park determined that the water there is not contaminated.

Cryptosporidiosis symptoms typically begin two to 10 days after exposure and usually last for two weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common symptom is diarrhea, but other symptoms may include dehydration, stomach cramps, weight loss, fever, nausea and vomiting.

Some of those reporting symptoms to the health department said their symptoms dated as far back as June, but there were no known cases reported in other states. Many of those sickened have recovered, according to the health department.

Authorities urged anyone who has visited the park since late July and is having symptoms to contact their local health department or their physician. Family members and close contacts of people who have been ill and are experiencing symptoms should do the same.

People who have had symptoms are advised not to swim in recreational water -- including swimming pools, hot tubs and lakes -- while they are ill and for two weeks after their symptoms have ended in an effort to prevent spreading of the disease.

Health care workers, day care staff and food workers with symptoms are urged to stay home from work until they feel better.