State: Family didn’t get sick from lake

HOLLIS – State health officials have concluded that a Milford family who developed a bacterial disease shortly after swimming in Silver Lake last month did not contract the illness from the lake water.

Four members of Brenda Danforth’s family developed symptoms that were diagnosed as shigellosis. But following testing, officials concluded that the four did not become ill as a result of contaminated lake water, but instead were exposed through other sources.

The Shigella bacteria cause fever, diarrhea and stomach cramps that can begin a day or so after exposure, according to state public health officials.

Shigella is usually spread from person to person or through contaminated food.

Preliminary tests of samples from Silver Lake suggested that the illness may have been caused by lake water, and the state also tested for E. coli, an indicator of sewage contamination.

However, further laboratory tests failed to identify the bacteria in the lake water.

The state didn’t close the state park while it was conducting tests, but it did post signs warning the public about possible contamination. The yellow and black advisory posters, which remain in place, remind beachgoers to wash their hands before handling food and to shower after swimming in the lake.

“We took a cautious approach, said swim at your own risk,” said Chris Adamski, disease control chief for the state Division of Public Health.

Following the latest laboratory tests, the state announced it would continue monitoring the lake, even though there have been no new cases reported, Adamski said.

“Essentially, (the testing) is complete and we’ll continue to monitor for new cases,” she said.

Meanwhile, fewer people have been going to Silver Lake to swim or relax on the beach.

“We certainly did end up with fewer people than I’d expect, based on the weather,” park manager Andrew Blake said Tuesday.

Adamski said isolating Shigella in a water sample is difficult. The disease, which is reportable under state law, is not common in New Hampshire, she said.

“We may remove the advisory, but the message, tips for swimming remain,” Adamski said, urging people to be conscientious about hand washing before handling food, particularly after spending time in the lake.

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 24, or