Norovirus causes dozens of people to fall ill following swim at Thetis Lake Regional Park

VANCOUVER – Vancouver Island public health officials have now confirmed it was norovirus that caused more than 80 people to fall ill following a swim at Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Despite recent samples of the beach water at Thetis Lake showing no increased levels of bacteria, people who swam at the beach on Friday June 6, and Saturday, June 7, complained of vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

Health officials say the most likely source of the norovirus was transient contamination of the water from someone who was ill. Contamination of the water will dissipate over a period of time, but how quickly will depend on the weather and water conditions.

Public health staff have confirmed that the public washroom at the beach had extra cleaning on Monday and Tuesday, over and above the regular cleaning.

Unlike swimming pools, natural water sources like lakes and beaches are not treated or disinfected. Visitors to lakes and beaches should take the following precautions when they or their children swim in untreated water sources:

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  • Don’t swim if you are ill,
  • Do not consume the water,
  • Clean your hands thoroughly before eating and drinking, and
  • Shower at home after swimming.

Island Health took additional water samples yesterday and will continue with increased water testing at Thetis Lake beach over the next few weeks.

If you are unsure about whether to seek medical attention, call HealthLine at 8-1-1 for advice.