WHITE LAKE — After receiving tests results on water samples from White Lake, Bladen County N.C. Public Health says it is not issuing any type of advisory at this time.
Last week, after reports that around 20 people who were in the lake over the July 4 holiday broke out in what was described as a chicken-pox-like rash, officials sent water samples to Raleigh for analysis, checking for two commonly occurring bacteria.
The levels for Enterococci were well within the normal range, and the level of Pseudomonas Auruginosa was high, according to a statement released by the Health Department.
“This bacteria is usually indicated in rashes resulting from under-treated or ill-treated hot tubs and swimming pools according to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control, and the same conditions can occur in warm waters of natural lakes and ponds. While there are no definite levels considered high for PA, which is common in all environments including soil and water, a high level in a natural body of water may be to blame. No laboratory results from human patients confirming the presence of Enterococci or PA have been reported to us to date,” the statement said.
The statement also said that the samples were taken from one area of the lake that was the origin of many of the reports of rashes, but results do not indicate the conditions of the entire lake or even the conditions of that isolated area over extended time.
A possibility still remains that the culprit is a common microscopic parasite that causes a condition called “swimmer’s itch.”
The Health Department’s statement also said that such testing is normally not within its scope of involvement, but that personnel wanted to “use an abundance of caution and fulfill (their) responsibility of investigating human health concerns affecting the community.”
“We will defer to more qualified personnel regarding questions about the water quality of the lake itself as we do not have the expertise in monitoring or managing open natural bodies of water,” the statement said.
Due to a lack of evidence of serious illness, the department is not issuing any public health advisories about White Lake at this time.
White Lake Mayor Goldston Womble said, “White Lake town officials are aware of the concerns that have been expressed about the recent skin rashes reported to local health officials. The town is working with these officials and the state of North Carolina to determine any possible links between the rashes and water activities in White Lake.
“At this point in time, there has been no confirmation from local health officials that there are any serious health or safety concerns for anyone using the lake,” he added. “We will continue working with all agencies involved as we closely monitor this matter to ensure and maintain the healthy and enjoyable conditions at White Lake.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.