Tuesday, June 18, 2024

‘A parent’s worst nightmare’: Children hospitalized after swimming in lake

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LAKE ANNA, Va. (Gray News) – Virginia health officials are investigating reports of illness connected to Lake Anna.

Multiple families said their children became very ill after swimming in the lake over Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Judy Inglett said

The Fauquier County mother said the nightmare started when her 15-year-old daughter came home from a day at the lake.

“She left on that Friday on that weekend, and she was fine. And now she is, like, fighting for her life,” Inglett said.

She said her daughter was taken to the hospital after suffering from brutal symptoms, and she’s had at least two rounds of dialysis.

“She has been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome. She’s in kidney failure. I wouldn’t even let my dogs swim in that lake. There is definitely something going on. It’s not safe,” Inglett said.

Nate Hiner’s 8-year-old twins are in Children’s National Hospital. His daughter has received blood and platelet transfusions.

Hiner also said he believes it stems from their Memorial Day weekend lake visit.

“It’s terrifying to just go from having a fun day at the lake to potentially needing dialysis in an 8-year-old child. Its just unfathomable to think of as a parent,” he said.

Swimming, fishing and boating is allowed on the 17-mile-long reservoir that spans Louisa, Spotsylvania and Orange counties, according to Virginia State Parks.

Some neighbors said large groups of people dock their boats at a sand bar, and some people decide to use the bathroom in the water. So the neighbors told us they weren’t surprised to learn the lake might be contaminated.

In a news release, Virginia Department of Health officials said some people were diagnosed with E. coli infections, which can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.

“VDH has received numerous reports of GI illness, mainly in children, with similar symptoms,” the release stated. “Some hospitalizations have been reported. Clinical evaluation and treatment of patients is ongoing. All potential causes of illness, including lake water and food exposures, are being investigated.”

Though all of those sickened had either swam or were exposed to the water at Lake Anna, state health officials said it is not confirmed that the gastrointestinal illness came from swimming or water exposure there. They also said there’s no confirmed harmful algal bloom at the lake.

State health officials said that the water is being tested for bacteria “to determine whether a public health risk may be ongoing.”

A spokesperson from the state health department also said they’re looking into several possible causes — not just the lake.

The Lake Anna Civic Association said in a social media post that it’s tested the lake for normal quarterly tests, and samples have been sent to state labs. They are awaiting the results.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation was asked if it is looking into this. The agency has not yet responded.

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