Vancouver, Wash. ( Clark Co. WA Communications ) Clark County Public Health is closing Vancouver Lake to swimmers due to elevated levels of E. coli bacteria detected during routine testing. Some E. coli bacteria can cause serious gastrointestinal illness if water is accidentally swallowed.

Due to the elevated bacteria levels, Public Health is closing the lake to swimming and wading. People who fish at the lake should take precautions to avoid water contact.

“It’s especially important to keep children out of the lake because they are more likely than adults to swallow some of the water,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director.

Closure signs are being posted at Vancouver Lake today after water samples taken from the lake on Monday showed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. Public Health will continue to regularly monitor water quality at the Vancouver Lake.

The closure will remain in effect until tests show that E. coli bacteria levels do not exceed state and US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Public Health will advise the public when water contact is considered safe again. Test results and information about current advisories are posted on the Public Health public beaches website.

Public Health also has a blue-green algae warning in place for Vancouver Lake, due to elevated cyanotoxins in the water. Public Health is advising people to avoid direct contact with all lake water.

Vancouver Lake Regional Park remains open. Water in park restrooms and shelters is not affected by lake water and remains safe to drink.

Park visitors may continue to fish in the lake but should thoroughly clean all fish and equipment. Fish should be cooked before eaten. Anyone having contact with water in Vancouver Lake should wash hands with soap and water.

Information about E. coli

E. coli is a common kind of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and people. The presence of E. coli in Vancouver Lake water indicates that the water may contain bacteria found in animal or human feces. Some of these bacteria are capable of causing severe gastrointestinal illness.

Depending on the cause, people with gastrointestinal infections may experience fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea beginning several hours to several days or longer after exposure. Some infections may cause bloody diarrhea.

People who experience bloody diarrhea or persistent gastrointestinal symptoms should call their physician or other health care provider.

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