July 23, 2008

CDC Confirms Parasite in Burger’s Lake

By Jeff Mosier, The Dallas Morning News

Jul. 23--The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found the parasite Cryptosporidium in water samples from Burger's Lake, Tarrant County Public Health announced today.

County officials had suspected that the popular west Fort Worth swimming hole -- which temporarily closed last week -- had been the source of an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis. The health department also announced today that the number of confirmed cases has increased to 20.

The ages of those infected range from 1 to 61, county officials said. Cryptosporidium is among the most common causes of waterborne disease and can result in stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.

It can sometimes lead to death, usually in those with weakened immune system, but there have been no deaths reported from this outbreak.

County officials said that the water in the privately-owned Burger's Lake will be hyperchlorinated to eliminate the protozoa. Cryptosporidium is resistant to chlorine at levels typically found in swimming pools, but it can be killed if the chlorine level is much higher.

It wasn't clear when Burger's Lake would reopen. Heath department officials said they tested the source water for the spring-fed lake later and didn't find any Cryptosporidium. It's likely that fecal matter from one of the swimmers introduced the parasite into the water.

As a precaution, the county has recommended that area public pools hyperchlorinate their water to prevent the spread of the disease, and Arlington city officials closed public pools there today to add extra chlorine. The pools will reopen Thursday.

The first infection in this outbreak was discovered in late June.


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