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Horseshoe Lake swimmers report feeling ill

The Kitsap County Health District is still investigating what caused nearly two dozen people to get sick after swimming in Horseshoe Lake last week, according to Keith Grellner, environmental health director.

“Right now it seems that the lakes are innocent bystanders,” Grellner said, referring to the more than 30 cases of gastro-intestinal distress reported by people who visited three lakes in Kitsap County — Horseshoe, Wildcat and Long.

By Aug. 4, approximately 30 people had reported nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after swimming in those lakes during the hot weather last week. Most of the reports — 23 — were from people who swam at Horseshoe Lake on July 29.

“We’re still investigating, but it appears to be a person-to-person transmission,” Grellner said, explaining that not only did the water samples taken from the lake not reveal any problems, but that people who were not at the lake, and only had contact with those who visited the lake, were also reporting problems.

On Wednesday, Grellner said a few more people reported getting sick, two more from July 29 at Horseshoe, and two who had visited Wildcat Lake more recently.

Stool samples obtained from ill people all tested negative for bacteria and parasites, according to Health District officials, but deputy director Scott Daniels said they are still waiting for samples that are being tested for Norovirus, a common intestinal virus.

“We have not had any conclusive waterborne links to these illnesses,” Daniels said.

Grellner said pointed out that both Horseshoe and Wildcat lakes have private camps near the county parks, and no one from either camp reported falling ill.

None of the cases required hospitalization.

With the exception of Kitsap Lake, which has been under a health advisory since July 17 due to a toxic blue-green algae bloom, no county lakes have been closed to the public.

However, local swimmers are advised to:

• Avoid ingesting water from lakes, creeks, and marine waters.

• Do not go swimming if you are ill or have diarrhea.

• Individuals in diapers should not enter the water.

• Do not urinate or defecate in the water.

• Wash hands with soap and water immediately after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper.

• When swimming, take young children on frequent bathroom breaks.

• If ill, see a health care provider to be checked out as soon as possible.

If you become ill with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea or abdominal pain after swimming at a local beach, report your illness to the health district by leaving a message — your name, phone number, and date of the call — at (360) 337-5623.

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