Jim Tuttle has been following the unfolding cause of the E. coli outbreak that has sickened 14 in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Last week it was found that a well that supplies drinking water was contaminated with E. coli. However, ‘officials are quick to point out that the bacteria found this week in well #2 is not the same strain that apparently made at least 14 people sick after they swam in the 42-acre lake between mid and late July.” What strain of E. coli has not yet been revealed.
A new theory for the cause of the outbreak is the “recent heavy rains may be to blame for E. coli in the drinking water at Cowans Gap State Park, but the source of contamination in the park’s lake is still unknown. “
“From all the evidence we can see at this point, they’re not at all linked,” Pennsylvania Department of Health spokesperson Christine Cronkright said. “Some of those people (who got sick) did drink the water, but the majority did not. All of them swam in the lake.”
The confirmed cases of illness tied to Cowans Gap all involved infection by the toxin-producing O157:H7 strain of E. coli. Cronkright said the type of E. coli found in the untreated drinking water is not believed to be toxin-producing.