July 17, 2008

Burger’s Lake in Fort Worth Closes After Customers Report Illness

By Jeff Mosier, The Dallas Morning News

Jul. 17--A popular private lake in Fort Worth has temporarily closed after eight customers were diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, a disease caused by a microscopic parasite.

The Tarrant County Public Health Department announced this morning that Burger's Lake had voluntarily closed the night before. Vanessa Joseph, a county public health spokeswoman, said water samples had been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and results should be available by Saturday.

Ms. Joseph said investigators are still trying to determine whether the lake was the source of the infection, but so far, no other explanations for the outbreak have been found. She said dozens more are being tested and local doctors and hospitals have been asked to watch for patients with symptoms of cryptosporidiosis.

The first of the eight people confirmed with the infection visited Burger's Lake in June. Symptoms of the disease appear on average a week after exposure to the parasite, according to the CDC's Web site.

The health department said it was investigating along with the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The 30-acre park has a 1-acre spring-fed pool, a water slide, trapeze that swings over the water, beaches and picnic tables, according to its Web site.

The outgoing voicemail message at the lake did not mention the outbreak of Cryptosporidium infections and only said it was temporarily closed and would "reopen upon further notice."

Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent cause of waterborne diseases, according to the CDC. The federal fact sheet also said the parasite -- commonly know as crypto -- has a hard outer shell that makes it resistant to chlorine and can be found in both drinking water and recreation waters, such as swimming pools and lakes.

Cryptosporidium is also the parasite that infected the Milwaukee water supply in 1993 and caused an estimated 403,000 people to become sick with severe diarrhea, vomiting and cramps. The outbreak was believed to have contributed to more than 100 deaths.


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