May 24, 2019 – There have been no reports of illnesses associated with Lake Wildwood since the summer of 2017 outbreak when 18 people fell ill with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 (STEC O157), most after unintentionally ingesting lake water. At the time of the outbreak, the STEC O157 collected from human specimens matched STEC O157 identified in lake water, submerged sediment, and one goose scat sample.
The original source of that 2017 outbreak strain has not yet been determined and at this point is unlikely to be. Because STEC can be widely distributed in the environment from animal waste, published studies on recreational water related STEC outbreaks often are unable to pinpoint the specific original source.
Given the history of the outbreak in 2017 and Lake Wildwood’s intermittent detections of STEC O157 in 2018, the Nevada County Public Health Department recommends the following: Do not ingest lake water. Swallowing lake water, especially near the shoreline or sandy beaches, has resulted in serious illness. Swimming or splashing is not advised in any location experiencing high E. coli levels or in areas with evidence of goose fecal droppings.
This advisory to not ingest lake water should be taken to heart and is most critical for more vulnerable populations including young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
For more information about E.coli, visit the California Department of Public Health’s website located at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/E-coli-O157H7.aspx or visit the CDC’s website located at https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html.