GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Thirty people became ill after spending time at Millennium Parklast Friday and Saturday, according to Kent County healthinvestigators. And the number of cases is growing.
Peter Eaton, who was at the park both days, suspects the watermay be to blame for making several people in his familyuncomfortably sick.
"Saturday morning when they woke up, it was to explosivediarrhea, vomiting, headaches -- (and they were) cranky,obviously," Eaton said.
Those affected, mostly children, have reported the samesymptoms. The water is being tested by health department workers todetermine what's behind the illness.
In a written statement from Assistant Kent County AdministratorMary Swanson, it says testing of the water at the park's splash padand the beach shows bacteria levels are well within normal limits,and nothing is out of the ordinary.
That leads the health department to believe whatever is makingpeople sick was isolated to the park Friday. The next step is totest people.
Eaton's sister already has started that process, he said.
"They said they were going to send her out some kind of vial tosend in samples of what she's got going on, and see if they can getthat tested," he told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday.
Stool sample results will give health officials a better idea ofthe culprit, they said.
"We have an idea of what we might be looking at, just based onthe incubation period of the time of the exposure to the time thatthe symptoms start, but these things are kind of a mystery until weget some specimens and more data," said Brian Hartl of the KentCounty Health Department.
Eaton has his own theory -- which involves birds living atMillennium Park and leaving more than feathers behind.
"It's good to keep it natural and the birds are welcome, it'sjust, the poop on the beach might have been something to do with ittoo -- maybe," Eaton said. "If they got someone to come out in themorning and clean the poop up? I can't say that's where it camefrom or if it's a lot of it in the water (but) you never know."
Stool sample results are expected for Wednesday, officials said.There isn't an immediate risk to people who want to visit the park,they added.
But health department officials said those who are sick shouldwash their hands thoroughly, and clean all surfaces with a bleachsolution to keep the illness from spreading.
If you have symptoms, call the health department at (616)632-7228.
Kent County's entire statement:
On Monday, the Kent County Parks Department and Health Department each received calls from persons whose families were at Millennium Park on Friday and became ill over the weekend.
Water samples are regularly tested at Millennium Park, and bacteria counts have been low - well below the standard for total body contact. Following Monday's reports of illness, samples were again collected and tested and reported well within normal limits. Health Department staff who took the recent samples at Millennium noted nothing out of the ordinary. Additional testing is being conducted by the Health Department on the individuals who reported illnesses, but so far the results are non-conclusive.
Given the number of calls in comparison to the number of people at the beach on Friday and during the weekend, it appears as though this is an isolated incident.
There have been no additional complaints, and there appears to be no information that links the illnesses to the water or the splash pad. The water samples continue to test within normal ranges. We will continue to monitor the situation, but believe at this point it was an isolated situation and that the swimming beach and splash pad are safe for people to enjoy.
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