Updated: Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010, 8:48 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010, 1:04 PM EDT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The number of people who got sick after spending time at Millenium Park on Friday is growing.
In addition to the 30 cases of people who originally fell ill , another 50 called the Kent County Health Department on Wednesday morning to report their family also got sick, a department spokesperson told 24 Hour News 8.
Those affected report symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.
Stool samples taken from some affected park-goers were tested for norovirus, the most common cause of food-borne illnesses. Norovirus is spread human-to-human. The department decided to test for Norovirus based on the incubation period and symptoms of those who became ill.
The presence of norovirus was detected around 4:45 p.m., when the results came in.
There were 1900 admissions to Millennium Park last Firday, and Health Department Official Brian Hartl believes the number of affected people could be more than 100. He also said children may be more affected because they were fully submerged under water.
In the meantime, the health department is taking a cautionary measure by cleaning surfaces at Millenium Park with a hyper-chlorinated water solution.
Hartl urged those who are sick to wash hands, and surfaces in their home with a 10 percent bleach solution.
Kent County Statement on Millennium Park Outbreak
On Monday, July 19, the Kent County Parks Department and Kent County Health Department began receiving calls from individuals who were at Millennium Park on Friday, July 16, and became ill over the weekend. To date, approximately 100 individuals have reported an illness. Most individuals reported that they were at the park on Friday, while a few others reported being at the park on Saturday.
The Health Department requested samples from some of the early callers to test for the cause of the illness. Based on the symptoms reported, the Health Department suspected the cause of illness was norovirus: a common, but highly contagious virus that spreads through person-to-person contact, and contact with the virus through food, water and hard surfaces. The illness is not generally serious or life-threatening, but symptoms can be more pronounced in some individuals.
We received the test results today at 4:45 p.m, confirming the presence of norovirus in individuals who were tested.
Although the exact source of the virus is unknown, the most likely scenario is that someone was ill at the park Friday and initiated the spread of the virus by contact with the water or beach house. At this time, however, we are unable to confirm the exact path of transmission. It’s important to note that water samples of the lake and splash pad both before and after the outbreak tested well below the levels allowed for coliforms, a standard measure for water contamination.
Millennium Park restrooms are sanitized daily. No one has reported contracting the illness at the park following Saturday evening’s cleaning, but as a result of the test samples indicating norovirus, the Health Department has recommended that all hard surfaces at the park with which people come in contact be sprayed with a special sanitizer. These areas include restrooms, shelters, playground equipment, picnic tables, grills, etc., The affected areas of the Park are being shut down to accomplish this immediately. The splash pad water system will also be cleaned with an extra high concentration of chlorine. The park will resume normal operation beginning Thursday morning.
Millennium Park is a popular, local attraction, hosting an average of 6,500 individuals at the beach and Splash Pad each week this summer. As with all public facilities, visitors are encouraged to practice good hygiene and observe hand-washing protocols. The Parks Department will continue to maintain a high level of sanitation and cleanliness of the facilities to ensure visitors enjoy their stay in a safe and healthy environment.
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