Lake’s E.coli Status Remains a Mystery
By Amy Irani, REHS,
Director of Environmental Health
Late last week, the Association received a new update from the County on the status of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. No new data were reported in this update, but it does include more detailed information on the study plan moving forward. The Nevada County Environmental Health Department update follows:
In this week’s update I will provide you with the ongoing work that we have been doing since our last meeting working with our Public Works Department and our external agency partners.
I would like to take a moment to let you, Bob, and your Association members know that my department, Environmental Health, and the Public Health Department (Jill Blake and Dr. Cutler) have continuously worked on this outbreak situation and investigation since the outbreak began at the end of July 2017. At the same time, I recognize that since you, association staff and Community advisors are not directly involved in our internal day-to-day discussions; your frustrations are understood by PH, CDA, EH and our CDC and CDPH partners. As much as I would like to provide you with a single solution to the causation (geese) of the E.coli issue and the two independent strains of STEC, I cannot point to one single factor, nor can our partners at the CDC or CDPH. We are very aware of how discouraging the lack of a specific answer is and we are all very grateful to the LWA for your patience throughout this process/investigation. The ultimate goal and the goal that EH, PH, PW, CDC and CDPH are working towards is to find the source of the contamination in hopes of eliminating the source.
Below, is the current plan of investigation/sampling moving forward:
1. Goose Scat sampling (12 sites around Lake Wildwood including the Golf Course) is in process of scheduling with Placer County Public Health Laboratory. County CDA Director Sean Powers requested that the staff of the Placer County Public Health Laboratory gather the samples and the EH Department was prepared to pay all of the associated costs for staff time, travel and collection equipment. The Placer County Public Health Laboratory has agreed to help in anyway and will only charge the EH department for testing costs. Mr. Powers wanted to have the laboratory staff perform the sample collection (other than County personnel) to remove any question of sampling bias or abilities.
2. Public Works has contracted with a company to perform water sample testing within the lake wildwood area and outside of the lake wildwood association proper of water sources into the lake. Trisha Tillotson, County Public Works Director, at the direction of CDA Director Powers, is arranging with the contracted laboratory/company to do the testing. The same reasoning for an outside agency/laboratory is applied here as done with the scat-testing plan in #1.
3. CDPH Scientist, Greg Inami, will be sending additional Moore Swabs (14 in total) by October 23, 2017. County CDA Director Sean Powers requested the additional Moore Swabs. The plan is to place the swabs at locations in or near the public works lift stations around the LWA.
4. John Griffith with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project is currently working with me in creating an MOU (memorandum of understanding). The MOU would need County Board of Supervisors Approval and the EH Department would be funding the cost for Dr. Griffith’s time/travel and expertise in fresh water bodies and health related outbreaks and/or E.coli contamination. Dr. Griffith’s laboratory is state of the art and can analyze via a variety of methods. Dr. Griffith is the lead scientist that is consulted by the State of California Environmental Protection Agency Chief on water-borne diseases and outbreaks as he has extensive experience in fresh water lakes. Dr. Griffith is willing to assist EH in the review of the current testing completed to date, be on-site for site assessment of LWW and surrounding parcels, set up new testing procedures and/or locations and work towards finding a source.
5. EPA Region 9 has also been contacted and our local representative will be working with me to collaborate, in conjunction with Dr. Griffith, to consult on what are the possible sources of contamination.
I hope that I have provided some insight into the planned process moving forward. I believe that there is a meeting in process of scheduling for EH/PH to meet with LWA members as a follow up of our October 12, 2017 meeting. Thank you Bob, please share with your Association and extend our appreciation for the patience and understanding by your Association members to this lengthy investigation process.
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