BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – A beach that had been shut down because of contamination that sickened dozens of people will re-open Wednesday.
Lake Wazee Beach was closed to let the heat and UV lighting destroy human fecal contamination in the water. The Jackson County Health Department says the United States Department of Agriculture finished testing on Monday. It found that the contamination is gone and the water is now safe for swimming.
The state identified Norovirus as the probable cause of the illness associated with the beach on July 4th. More than 200 people reported getting sick. Their symptoms included vomiting, diarrhea, headache, nausea, stomachache, fever and body ache. The average recovery time was 24-36 hours.
The health department says that this appears to be an isolated incident related to human contamination in beach water.
BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - On a hot summer day, all is quiet on Lake Wazee. The water looks almost Caribbean-like from above, but below the surface, an invisible secret that in the past week has made more than 200 people sick.
"We're thinking it's probably Norovirus, that's our suspicion at this time," said Christine Hovell, the Public Health Manager for Jackson County.
She says that is based on the symptoms being shown and some other findings.
"We've determined there's definitely a human fecal contaminate," Hovell said.
Couple that with what was a hot Fourth of July this year and it creates what she calls the perfect storm.
"We had a lot of people on the lake, we had somebody that probably contaminated the lake and it spreads very quickly through the water," she said.
Especially in shallow waters like at Lake Wazee's Beach and often times she says it spreads when people do not wash their hands, contaminating objects, others and even themselves.
"We didn't have a lot of hand washing going on before people ate their food, so we suspect it also spread from hand to mouth," Hovell added.
She says the problems at Lake Wazee are short-term. Natural elements already occurring in the water along with the ultra-violet rays from the sun will help clean Wazee out, making its clear blue water safe to swim in again.
And so for now, Hovell is urging people to stay out of the water for the weekend. Letting nature take its course.
"And then we'll test on Monday, we're looking more at whether all human contaminants are gone, and then we'll hopefully re-open next week probably," Hovell said.