Health officials clear Nisson Park as source of E. coli outbreak

WASHINGTON CITY – Water from a park in Washington City that was investigated as the source a recent E. coli outbreak has been cleared as the cause by Southwest Utah Public Health Department, city officials announced Tuesday.

Last week, water from the Mill Creek and its associated Tanner irrigation ditch that runs through Nisson Park was the focus of short-lived social media frenzy and resulting investigation by the Health Department.

Read more: Health officials investigate Nisson Park as possible source of family’s E. coli infections

A Facebook post shared many times over by Washington City residents and others last Wednesday warned people not to go to the park, at 30 S. 200 West, as it was believed to be the possible cause of an E. coli infection that had afflicted three families gathered there for a family reunion a few weeks prior.

The Tanner Ditch at Nisson Park is used to divert irrigation water from Mill Creek to nearby homes, Washington City, Utah, June 12, 2018 | File photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Young children were reportedly sent to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City and a hospital in Las Vegas for medical care.

The children were said to have played in the water, resulting in their being infected and spreading the infection to other family members.

The Health Department was notified about the outbreak and began testing the water at the park last Tuesday.

Fervor on social media over the issue died down as officials announced that preliminary test results found the levels of E. coli in the water were not considered dangerous.

The Health Department told Washington City officials Tuesday that additional testing showed the water from the Mill Creek did not contain the bacteria that made the family sick. City officials posted the Health Department’s findings on the city’s Facebook page.

Washington City has been notified by the Southwest Utah Health Department that further testing of the water present in Nisson park did not identify the type of bacteria associated with a previously announced E.coli outbreak. The water in the park was being investigated as a possible cause of the outbreak. Therefore, the City will be removing the protective barriers and signage around Nisson Park. This incident is a reminder, however, that untreated surface waters can contain a number of infectious agents, including E.coli, and that ingesting non-treated water, whatever the source, carries risk.

“We’re really glad (the stream) didn’t have any harmful strains of E. coli in the water,” Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said.

Water wheel water feature and pond at Nisson Park, Washington City, Utah, June 12, 2018 | File photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Water from Mill Creek has been used for irrigation for over 150 years.

It is also not uncommon for children to play in the stream or irrigation ditch at Nisson Park.

As for the families at the center of the E. coli outbreak, Neilson said he has not heard any updates on the condition of those who were infected.

“We hope the families are doing well,” he said.

According to the Health Department, E. coli are common bacteria that can be spread to people when tiny pieces of feces enter the mouth through unwashed hands, contaminated soil, water or food.

Sources of infection include undercooked meat, unpasteurized dairy products, infected animals and manure. Most types of E. coli are harmless, but some strains are harmful to humans.

Additional information on what E. coli is, does and how it can be treated and how infection can be prevented can be found on the Southwest Utah Public Health Department website.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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