Norovirus caused illnesses at Woods Pond, CDC says

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BRIDGTON — An investigation from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention into nearly 100 cases of illness related to Woods Pond in Bridgton has identified an outbreak of norovirus as the culprit.

“Specimens from humans submitted for testing confirmed that this was a norovirus outbreak,” said a spokeswoman from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “Our epidemiologic investigation found that people who put their heads under the water while swimming or swallowed water while swimming were at greater risk for infection. There were several people who were not at the beach who became ill after caring for someone who was ill.”

Norovirus is “very contagious and spreads easily from person to person” and is common in Maine and across the country, according to the DHHS spokeswoman.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping – and there is no specific treatment for the illness, which usually lasts between one and three days according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bridgton Town Manager Robert Peabody made the decision to close the Woods Pond beach to swimming on July 6, after the Maine CDC notified the town of reports of stomach-related illness from people who had been swimming there between July 2 and July 6.

The town reopened the beach on July 10 when bacteria testing conducted by the Paris Utility District found trace, acceptable levels of e. coli in a Woods Pond beach water sample.

A water sample taken from the beach’s bathroom sink, which had already been labeled not suitable for drinking, failed the test due to e. coli and coliform bacteria in the sink water. The sinks were shut off and have since been replaced with hand sanitizing stations, the town manager said.

Peabody said Monday, July 23, he believes the CDC findings “speak for themselves” and do not change the town’s approach at the Woods Pond Beach, which remains open.

“The town will continue to be proactive in responding to issues such as this one,” he said.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

The Maine CDC’s investigation into nearly 100 reported cases of illness in early July related to Woods Pond in Bridgton has confirmed an outbreak of norovirus as the cause.

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