Illnesses may be linked to tap water

But no conclusive tie seen to town sewer-line break

June 30, 1999|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

As many as 20 Walkersville households have reported symptoms that might be related to sewage-contaminated tap water, although no positive link to a recent sewer-line break has been established, Frederick County health officials said yesterday.

Ellen B. Ristorcelli, director of nursing for the county Health Department, said her staff is collecting stool samples to test at a state laboratory for the presence of one of two microscopic parasites -- giardia or cryptosporidium.

Contamination concerns stem from the June 18 break that spilled 900,000 gallons of raw sewage into the ground and contaminated the source of drinking water for more than 7,000 people in the Walkersville area.

"To our knowledge, no one has been hospitalized or really sick," Ristorcelli said, adding that she would expect more severe symptoms if the illnesses were from drinking water contaminated with the parasites.

She said the types of symptoms being reported, such as diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps, also are associated with other germs that are present in any population at any given time.

Elizabeth J. Pasierb, Walkersville's planning and zoning director, said samples of the town's water supply taken last week, after the break was discovered, tested negative for the two parasites.

She said bacteria levels have risen, and residents should continue to boil their tap water before drinking it. Bacteria levels can be reduced at the water treatment plant through chlorine treatments, she added.

Pub Date: 6/30/99

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