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Four E.coli cases could be linked to West swimming pool, according to health department

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District is interviewing people who say they are now ill after a trip to the Playdium Pool.

WEST, Texas — The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District says there is a "strong epidemiological link” between four E.coli cases and a public swimming pool in West, TX.

As of Wednesday, Aug. 9, 25 individuals have reported symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness to the health district after exposure to the Playdium Pool between July 29 and Aug. 4. Among those cases, four have confirmed their illness to be E.coli by a lab test.

"E.coli is spread when somebody ingests contaminated food or water," said Vaidehi Shah, Senior Epidemiologist at Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. "In the case of the West pool, that's probably what would have happened, that the pool may be contaminated. When you're swimming in the pool, there is a good possibility that you ingest the water in the pool. So that could be one possibility. It is also possible that the food was contaminated. So we're looking at all the angles right now to try to figure out what exactly it is.”

The health district conducted an inspection on Aug. 4 to investigate the reports of illness, but according to their inspection report, there were no instances of fecal contamination and the pool's water chemistry was within acceptable parameters. They also reportedly checked daily maintenance logs which were maintained as appropriate.

"This is more than likely a point source outbreak, which means that the exposure happened for a brief period of time. People did fall sick over that weekend, but we're not seeing continued exposure over a long time period." 

The health district is collaborating with State authorities to explore the feasibility of conducting E.coli testing on the pool water. There have been no reported instances of exposure after Aug. 4, so the district believes the outbreak is contained. Shah says the instance of E.coli shouldn't deter people from cooling off at a pool this summer, however.

"Whenever you go to a swimming pool or any body of water, there is always a low risk of getting some kind of illness, if not E.coli then something else. So I wouldn't say that it's a threat to the community and don't go to the pools. Just practice normal precautions. Wash your hands, make sure your food is properly cooked and you should be fine. It's really hot. Go out in the pool and enjoy it."

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