Retreat says tests OK; officials still probing


While health officials are still working to respond to an illness that impacted a number of people, some of whom had recently visited Long’s Retreat, a spokesperson for the resort said this week that all health and environmental testing there has come back negative and the resort is open and safe.

In a press release Thursday updating its investigation, the Pike County General Health District said it is continuing to look into numerous reports of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea from people who recent visited the resort, particularly between July 10-14.

The health district said it has received 19 lab results, with 16 samples testing positive for Shigella, one positive for Salmonella, and two negative for either. So far, more than 600 individuals have completed interviews, the release said.

“Approximately 150 of these individuals have reported symptoms and interviews are still being completed and analyzed,” according to the release.

But there is still an insufficient sample to positively identify the cause of the outbreak or to rule out other pathogens, the statement said.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s online definition, Shigella “can be passed through direct contact with the bacteria in the stool. For example, this can happen in a child care setting when staff members don’t wash their hands well enough after changing diapers or helping toddlers with toilet training. Shigella bacteria also can be passed in contaminated food or by drinking or swimming in contaminated water.”

Brya Long, whose family owns the retreat, said this week that follow-up tests by health officials and environmental agencies have not found any harmful bacteria in water, wells, drinking water, food or other places at the property.

She said two different divisions of the Ohio EPA conducted tests, as did the Adams County Health Department, which was asked to conduct testing as a third-party agency, she said. She said all tests came back negative.

“They didn’t see any issues or problems,” she said.

Long stressed that the testing was a “re-inspection” because the resort conducts “our normal testing” before it can open each season.

But Pike County health officials are asking that individuals who have visited Long’s Retreat since June 1 contact the district or their local health department to complete an interview even if they did not experience symptoms.

“If you are symptomatic please contact your local county health department for instructions on how to submit a stool sample,” the release stated.

The spread of Shigella can be prevented by “frequent and careful handwashing with antibacterial soap, and taking other hygiene measures,” according to the health district.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

By Gary Abernathy

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