In Aug. 2011, Terry Brady, a spokesperson with Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said that the lake at Cowan’s Gap State Park remained open, despite links to three cases of E. coli O157. “The beaches are open and actually there was a good turnout today. A link to the park has not been established."
The lake was closed the next day. Eighteen people, primarily kids, were stricken with E. coli O157:H7; 10 were hospitalized. An additional 24 people were classified as suspected cases.
Swimming can be risky.
Public Opinion reports today that Cowan’s Gap State Park beach will reopen May 5, and officials will be handing out a fact sheet urging swimmers to take precautions against germs that can contaminate lakes and pools. The source of the bacterial outbreak that sickened 14 people in July and August remains a mystery, but state officials suspect poopy pants may be the culprit.
"If people aren’t careful, there are chances it would happen again," Mary Lorah, regional park manager with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "Our goal is to make them aware of steps they can take with their young children to prevent it."
DCNR spokesman Terry Brady, the same one, said, "It’s not unusual for people to leave thoughtfulness and cleanliness at home and not bring them to the state parks.”
The park also has encased its wells that provide drinking water to visitors, according to Brady. During the E. coli investigation, authorities discovered that a well at the park was contaminated with a different E. coli strain. They suspect the well was tainted with runoff from heavy rains. The well was not fingered as the cause of the outbreak because the park’s well water is chlorinated before it is sent to taps.