The swimming area at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area will remain closed until further notice after water testing confirmed the presence of cryptosporidium and giardia. Both are parasites that can cause gastrointestinal illness and other symptoms. The swimming area has been closed since Tuesday as a precaution due to suspected cryptosporidium.
Cryptosporidium can be found in water, food, soil or on surfaces or dirty hands that have been contaminated with the feces of humans or animals. Symptoms generally begin 2 to 10 days (average 7 days) after becoming infected with the parasite. The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea. Symptoms last 1 to 2 weeks and can also include stomach pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment.
Giardia causes a diarrheal disease called giardiasis. According to the CDC, the most common cause of giardiasis is from drinking contaminated water or at recreational water such as lakes, rivers and pools. The most common short-term symptoms include diarrhea, gas, greasy stools that tend to float, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and dehydration. Symptoms begin with 2 to 5 loose stools per day with increasing fatigue. Rarer symptoms are rash, itching and joint swelling. It is important to consult a physician if symptoms appear.
The Greenfield Health Department has confirmed that one individual, a child, has been diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis. That individual is recovering after receiving treatment. No cases of giardiasis have been identified.
“Anyone who has gone swimming recently in the Green River and is experiencing symptoms should consult a physician,” said Greenfield Health Director Jennifer Hoffman. “We are working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Health to help pinpoint the source of these parasites and track any illnesses that result.”
The Green River Recreation Area remains open, though the water is off limits. Two lifeguards are stationed at the swimming area to help ensure that no one enters the water.