E. coli found in Ogden Valley camp water

Aug 15 2011 - 11:37pm

OGDEN -- The Weber-Morgan Health Department said Monday that E. coli bacteria have been found in the water of the Ogden Valley summer camp where 11 young women got sick.

Department spokeswoman Lori Buttars said, "We received the confirmations of our tests today, and we found E. coli bacteria in the kitchen water and spigots at Camp Shawnee and Camp Ben Lomond, so we are in the process of working with them to fix that situation, and in the meantime, people who go there will need to bring in their own water and use it for everything."

Camp Shawnee and Camp Ben Lomond are girls and boys camps, respectively. They are near Eden and share a common water system. The camps are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

About a dozen girls got sick after spending Aug. 2-5 at Camp Shawnee. They were part of a group of 45. The girls complained of severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea.

Many were taken to hospitals and at least one, Emily Buck, the daughter of Jenny Pratt, Ogden, was hospitalized for two days. Several parents said they have been told their children have E. coli, but this is the first confirmation of E. coli by the Weber-Morgan Health Department from tests done by the state.

All of the patients are recovering. Buttars said she is still waiting for results of testing on blood and stool samples from the patients to identify which specific strain of E. coli this is.

In the meantime, she said, the camps are working with the department to clean up their water systems.

LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter issued a statement Monday afternoon, saying, "We are working with health officials as they investigate this matter and have put in place their recommendations to ensure the health and safety of campers."

Buttars said Monday afternoon that the Utah Department of Environmental Quality was at the camps, working to find the source of the contamination.

She said two springs -- Cold Water and Bear Canyon -- feed storage tanks that provide water to the camps. She said new water samples of both springs and the tanks were taken Monday and will be tested to try to pinpoint the source of the contamination.

She said chlorine was added to the water system to try to clean it out.

Meanwhile, "we have 11 sick people, and we will be contacting others that have been up there to tell them that they could have been exposed to this and to watch for abdominal pain, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and it can be passed from person to person, so they need to be extra careful to wash their hands, especially before they handle food preparation.

"People with E. coli can be infectious for two weeks, and that's even one week after the diarrhea stops, so it's very important that the entire household take handwashing measures."

She said anyone who thinks they were made sick by water at the camps should tell their personal doctor about this diagnosis, "because it should not be treated with antibiotics. Those could make it worse. There are other things to treat it with."

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