BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wisconsin (WXOW) - More than 170 people are confirmed sick from spending time in the water at Lake Wazee in Jackson County over the July 4th holiday.
The Jackson County Health Department updated that number from 47 earlier this week.
Most of those who fell ill were able to recover in a day or two.
The department began investigating after reports of people falling ill with vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and other symptoms. Public Health Officer Christine Hovell says while initially thought to be food poisoning, the source was traced to the water in the beach area at the lake.
Testing by the USDA of the water around the beach detected fecal contaminants. It is now suspected, according to Hovell, that Norovirus is the cause of the illness. E-coli and blue green algae were ruled out as sources.
Additional testing is underway at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene.
Jackson County Forestry and Parks Administrator Jim Zahasky says the Lake Wazee beach area is closed through the weekend. Hovell states that according to experts at the USDA, natural elements such as sunlight and warm weather will destroy the harmful organisms in the water.
On Monday, the water at the beach is scheduled for re-testing. The beach will reopen if tests come out that the water is safe.
Hovell suggests that divers or fishermen who want to use other parts of the lake clean their equipment and wash their hands thoroughly when they're finished. She adds that people should wash their hands following any activity in any body of water.
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