Health & Medicine

Lake beach linked to E. coli kept shut as two children develop life-threatening condition

A beach on Lake Wildwood in Nevada County has been closed following the discovery of elevated E. coli levels that have reportedly sickened at least four people.
A beach on Lake Wildwood in Nevada County has been closed following the discovery of elevated E. coli levels that have reportedly sickened at least four people. The Sacramento Bee file

A Nevada County lake’s beach remains closed following an E. coli outbreak that hospitalized four children, two of whom have developed a severe condition that can lead to fatal kidney failure.

As of Monday afternoon, the Nevada County Health Department had received reports of six children and one adult infected with or showing symptoms of E. coli, all of whom spent time recently at Lake Wildwood’s Main Beach, according to the Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency.

Four of the children were hospitalized, the agency reported Monday. Two of them have hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) – a potentially life-threatening condition in which red blood cells clog the kidneys’ filtration system, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

One child who was hospitalized has been discharged.

Symptoms of E. coli, which can take up to 10 days to appear after infection, include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and vomiting, according to a county press release.

The lake’s Main Beach and its waters remain off-limits since county officials closed the recreational area Friday following reports of the outbreak. Water samples collected that day indicated high levels of a type of bacteria considered an indicator for E. coli.

The county has recommended that people avoid swimming in the lake entirely until tests show its other beaches to be safe.

The Nevada County Health Department and Environmental Health Department are still investigating the source of the E. coli. Animal feces may be responsible, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency stated in a press release. County officials found no leaks from wastewater treatment facilities in the area of the lake.

Ken Cutler, a Nevada County health officer, urged people to seek professional care immediately if they believe they may have E. coli.

“This illness is more dangerous in young children than healthy adults,” a county press release quoted Cutler advising. “If there are complications such as dehydration or anemia, timely treatment can make a significant difference in your recovery.”

Here are the basics on how E. coli outbreaks happen and what symptoms to look for.

Hannah Knowles: 916-321-1141, @KnowlesHannah

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