Bridgton officials have moved swimming lessons from Woods Pond Beach to Salmon Point starting Monday, after they closed the beach Friday afternoon because people fell ill with gastrointestinal symptoms after swimming there earlier in the week.

The town shut down the beach after being contacted by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to report the illnesses. Town Manager Bob Peabody said the town would arrange for the water at the beach to be tested as soon as possible Monday morning.

Emily Spencer, manager of media relations for the Maine CDC, said Sunday that the agency is investigating the illnesses, but she declined to speculate what may have caused them.

Spencer said people who fall ill should seek help from their doctors.

“As a reminder, good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently, and staying home and out of the water if you’re sick, and appropriate food storage in hot weather will help keep you healthy,” she said.

Lyndsay Stretch of Windham was one of more than a dozen people whose family members fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea after swimming at Woods Pond Beach during the heat wave last week. On Sunday, she said her children were still recovering, four days after falling ill.

Stretch said her children – ages 5, 7 and 11 – went to the beach for swimming lessons on Tuesday, and that by 9 p.m. the next day her youngest started vomiting, followed by the 7-year-old at 11 p.m. and the 11-year-old at 2 a.m.

“It lasted about two to four hours for each of them,” said Stretch. She said they have all had diarrhea for three to four days.

Stretch said her parents, who took the children to the swimming lessons and had them sleep over that night, also fell ill.

“All others in our family are fine. Kids were the only ones who swam there and my husband and I have no symptoms,” she said.

The town of Bridgton’s Facebook page was filled with similar descriptions of the illness that sent some to the emergency room. Two of Jeanine Nadeau’s four children, who all were swimming at the pond early last week, fell ill on Wednesday. Nadeau, of Bridgton, said Sunday that her 12-year-old was treated for dehydration following a trip by ambulance to the Bridgton Hospital emergency room after she fainted.

“She is OK now,” Nadeau said.

She said she didn’t connect their illnesses to the pond until a friend told her other people had gotten sick after swimming there.

“Since then I have heard of at least 10 other people” she had seen at the pond that day who had also fallen ill.

Nadeau said the experience did not deter her family from swimming. They were headed to Highland Lake Beach in Bridgton on Sunday afternoon.

Peabody said Saturday that the town would release the water testing results to the public as soon as they become available.

A Bridgton Hospital nursing supervisor said Saturday she was not authorized to release any information. The town reported on Facebook that the hospital had seen no “confirmed cases” of E. coli contamination.

“All cases have been treated with hydration and released from the ER,” the town reported.

The beach is on the south end of the 462-ace Woods Pond off Route 117.

 

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