Health officials investigate E. coli illnesses after numerous kids hospitalized after swimming in Virginia lake

The Virginia Department of Health is investigating to see if the illnesses stemmed from Lake Anna

Michelle Del Rey
Thursday 13 June 2024 18:17 BST
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Virginia health officials are investigating after several people got sick from swimming in a popular lake.

The state’s Department of Health said that the incidents stemmed from outdoor activity over Memorial Day weekend at Lake Anna, a body of water 86 miles from Washington, DC.

Several, including children, contracted gastronomical illnesses and some of the people have been diagnosed with E. coli infections. The infection causes stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and chills. In extreme cases, the illness can damage organs, including the kidneys, and lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Judy Inglett, the parent of a 15-year-old girl who went swimming in the lake over Memorial Day weekend said that her daughter is now fighting for her life.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Inglett, who is from Fauquier County, told Gray News. She took her daughter, who she did not name, to the hospital after she began experiencing severe symptoms. The child has had at least two rounds of dialysis.

“She has been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome. She’s in kidney failure. I wouldn’t even let my dogs swim in that lake. There is definitely something going on. It’s not safe,” Inglett said.

Lake Anna in Virginia spans 200 miles and has 13,000 acres of water. The Virginia Department of Health announced an investigation into several illnesses stemming from the lake over Memorial Day weekend
Lake Anna in Virginia spans 200 miles and has 13,000 acres of water. The Virginia Department of Health announced an investigation into several illnesses stemming from the lake over Memorial Day weekend (Virginia State Parks )

Nate Hiner said his eight-year-old twins are at the Children’s National Hospital in DC. His daughter needed blood and platelet transfusions after her trip to the lake.

“It’s terrifying to just go from having a fun day at the lake to potentially needing dialysis in an eight-year-old child. It’s just unfathomable to think of as a parent,” he told the outlet.

The department said it has received many reports of the illness, mainly in children, and is aware of hospitalizations.

Despite the reports, the department said it does not have enough information at this time to confirm that the illnesses stemmed from the lake, meaning it will not be issuing a swimming advisory.

The lake’s water will be tested to evaluate present concentrations of bacteria and to examine what the ongoing risk is to the public. It’s not suspected that the illness is related to an Algae Bloom.

“As we head to pools, lakes and beaches to enjoy the warmer weather and spend time with our families, it is important to remember to take precautions to prevent illness,” Olugbenga O Obasanjo, Rappahannock health district health director, said.

“Showering before and after swimming, washing your hands before eating and being sure not to drink the lake water are some of the ways to stay healthy this summer. It is also important not to swim if you have diarrhea.”

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