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August 27. 2013 9:48PM

Norovirus confirmed as what sickened Pawtuckaway campers

NOTTINGHAM — One of the nearly two dozen campers who became ill while camping at Pawtuckaway State Park and Campground has tested positive for norovirus, but state health officials haven't determined whether the person was sickened by the water or something else.

"With this human sample we can say with confidence that norovirus is involved here," Dr. Jose Montero, the state's public health director, said Tuesday.

The camper who tested positive for the virus was among at least 20 campers who visited the state park over the weekend of Aug. 18 and Aug. 19 and suffered gastrointestinal symptoms.

Montero said others have since come forward saying they also became sick after visiting the park. They must also be interviewed to determine exactly where they were and what they did while they were there to see if their illness can be linked to the suspected norovirus outbreak.At this point, the cause of the outbreak hasn't been confirmed.

According to Montero, the state is conducting experimental tests of the water in Lake Pawtuckaway and the park's drinking water to see if norovirus is present. The state doesn't typically test for norovirus in water, but Montero said he hopes testing in this case will be successful and become a tool for the state to use in the future.

At this point, it's not known how or where the camper who tested positive became infected with the highly contagious virus that causes stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Most norovirus outbreaks come from food, Montero said.

While the state isn't actively looking for additional park visitors who were ill, Montero said they can report their illness on the website for the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

In response to the outbreak, the state Department of Environmental Services posted a "preemptive illness" advisory at the park for much of last week warning swimmers of potential illness, but the advisory was lifted Friday morning.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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