April 12, 2024

Lake Wildwood Beach E. coli-HUS Outbreak Sickens 9 Children in CA

The E. coli outbreak that is possibly linked to Lake Wildwood Beach in California has now sickened nine young children, according to the Nevada County Public Health Department (NCPHD). The outbreak started on July 27, 2017.


As of August 2, 2017, nine children are sick. Six of those children have been hospitalized; two of those patients have returned home. Three of the hospitalized children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. One adult closely associated with one of the sick children has also been diagnosed with an E. coli infection.

Young children are most likely to develop HUS after an E. coli infection. Shiga toxins released by the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, killing red blood cells which then travel to the kidneys and brain. Patients can suffer kidney failure, strokes, and seizures.

The NCPHD is working with the Nevada County Environmental Health Department on this active investigation. The Environmental Health Department closed the Commodore Park beach on July 28 to ensure public health. Preliminary test results from water samples taken near that beach were received on July 29. NCPHD has also sent an advisory to all Lake Wildwood residents, advising them to not swim in the lake until more testing is completed. Warnings and advisories have been posted at all of the lake’s public beaches.

Water samples were collected at Lake Wildwood from five public beaches along the lake near the shoreline at Commodore Park, where all of the ill children played. Three of the five beaches, Commodore Park, Meadow Park, and Hideaway Park had elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria.

In addition, the Public Works Department tested for leaks in the sewer lines for the Lake Wildwood area. An inert, non-toxic green dye is in the lake now, which will disperse with exposure to direct sunlight. The source of the contamination has not been determined through all of this testing.

The lake water will be tested regularly at seven different locations near the beaches in question, twice a week. The beaches are closed until further notice. The public pool is open.

The symptoms of an E. coli. infection include severe and painful stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is bloody or watery, and a mild fever. Most people get sick within a few days after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria. The symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome include little or no urine output, easy bruising, a skin rash, bleeding from the nose or mouth, pale skin, and lethargy. If you or a family member have been experiencing these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

Dr. Ken Cutler, Nevada County Health Officer said in a statement, “This illness is more dangerous in young children than healthy adults, and should be taken very seriously. If you or a loved one experience these symptoms, please contact your health care provider right away. If there are complications such as dehydration or anemia, timely treatment can make a significant difference in your recovery.”

To prevent E. coli infections, it’s important to wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or taking care of someone who is sick. Do not go to work or school if you have a diarrheal illness.

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully represents people sickened and injured in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for survivors of these types of illness, including the largest verdict in American history for a child harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. The firm also publishes the E-news site, Food Poisoning Bulletin, a respected source for food safety news and information. Pritzker Hageman lawyers are regularly interviewed by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the firm represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infection and product liability cases.

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