Health Department confirms two with E-Coli; latest water test at Cole Park

By Dave Greber

Health Department confirms two with E-Coli; latest water test at Cole Park

July 17, 2013 Updated Jul 18, 2013 at 4:09 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Broome County said results from the most recent water tests at Nathaniel Cole Park showed no significant levels of E.Coli or any other bacteria.

The Broome County Health Department confirmed late Wednesday at least two people were recovering after contracting E. Coli. Both people swam at Cole Park on June 23.

Broome County Director of Public Health Claudia Edwards says her department has been in contact with the individuals' families, and both are in stable condition, according to a news release.

Edwards says the department's preliminary investigation found the cases could be connected to Nathaniel Cole Park on June 23.

The county regularly tests waterways it owns. According to the release, a test on June 28 showed elevated E. Coli levels, which may have been caused by heavy rains in the preceding days. The previous test on June 14, and the follow-up test on July 12, showed no significant elevations in E. Coli levels.

The release also says it's possible the bacteria was contracted from other sources.

"It’s important to note that more than 800 other individuals swam that day, and thousands more in the following weeks, and there are currently no other confirmed cases of E. Coli," according to the release.

The health department said hundreds of cases of E. Coli are reported across the state each year.

The bacteria can be transmitted through contaminated food or water, or person-to-person. Cases have been linked to fecal contamination in swimming areas, lettuce, spinach or other vegetables contaminated with cow manure, and undercooked meat, according to the release.

The health department says to cook all ground beef thoroughly, drink only pasteurized milk and other dairy products and always wash hands carefully with soap after using the toilet and before eating.

Also, when swimming in areas like Cole Park, limit the amount of water that's swallowed. Parents are reminded to keep sick children out of the water until they have recovered. Parents are also reminded that children entering the water in soiled diapers can increase the possibility of contamination.

The county's Parks, Recreation and Youth Services, which operates Cole Park, conducts water tests at all county-operated public waterways every two weeks.

Standard procedure for monitoring those levels is based on averaging the three most recent tests. The average for the three most recent tests at Cole Park fell below the standard for public health risk, the health department said.

Staff has increased the frequency of water sample testing at Cole Park to every three days. The most recent test sample was taken Wednesday and results were received on Thursday.

According to the Broome County Executive's Office, there was no elevated, significant or dangerous levels of E.Coli or other bacteria.

The Broome County Health Department considers the lake at Cole Park safe to the public for swimming and other recreational activities at this time.

Broome County will continue to monitor and investigate these cases and will provide further updates as needed, the release stated.

If any member of the public is concerned about specific symptoms, including vomiting or diarrhea, they should contact their health care provider.