Hanna Park Lake Closed to Swimmers Parasite Giardia May Be in Water

Article excerpt

Jacksonville parks officials closed Hanna Park's 65-acre lake to

swimmers indefinitely yesterday because a family of three who

swam there last month came down with an intestinal infection

called giardiasis.

Park workers used loudspeakers to tell about 60 swimmers to get

out of the park's lake yesterday afternoon and posted eight "No

Swimming" signs.

Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can infect a person's

small intestine and cause weeks of diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Duval County Health Department officials said they can't be

certain it was the lake water that infected the Jacksonville

family, but that there was a good chance it was.

If the lake in the ocean-front park was the source of their

illness, hundreds or thousands might have been infected, health

department director Jeff Goldhagen said.

On Tuesday, health officials received reports of the three

giardia cases. On Wednesday, they interviewed the family and

concluded they might have gotten it from the Hanna Park lake.

Yesterday, they recommended the lake be closed to swimmers.

Bill Potter, director of the city's parks department, agreed.

Park workers got told swimmers at 3:30 p.m. to get out of the

water and posted signs.

City officials said they could not recall another instance in

which a public lake or swimming pool in Jacksonville was shut

because it was potentially spreading disease.

Last week, giardia was found in a routine water sample taken

from a swimming pool at the Eagle Harbor community in Clay

County. But new test results that came back yesterday showed no

sign of the parasite, and an Eagle Harbor spokeswoman said the

pool might reopen this weekend.

Whether the Hanna Park lake water actually has giardia is

undetermined. Health department officials plan to test the water

in the next week for the presence of the parasite and will wait

to see if other recent lake swimmers report giardia.

"We will keep it closed until the results of all of the tests

and studies are performed, and [then] make a decision whether to

reopen," Potter said.

Boating and fishing will continue to be allowed in the lake

because those activities don't usually involve swallowing lake

water, Goldhagen said.

Giardia is usually ingested through hands or water that has

been in contact with human or animal feces. Many reported cases

stem from day-care centers or homes, where people are exposed to

the dirty hands and diapers of children. …