Jul 12 2012 Hamilton Advertiser
MORE than 50 people became ill after taking part in an open water swimming event at Strathclyde Loch.
They suffered sickness, stomach cramps and diarrhoea following the race that attracted 70 entrants from across Scotland.
None of those affected is thought to have been hospitalised, however, the loch has been closed to ALL water sports and boating.
Some of those who fell ill tested positive for norovirus, better known as the winter vomiting bug. Experts believe heavy rain prior to the event could have contaminated the water.
A Motherwell Masters ASC source said six members of their club took part and were “very ill” and had to seek medical advice following the event. Some were off work for a week, she added.
Rutherglen Swimming Club press officer Harley Matheison said they had competitors taking part in the event. He added: “Some of the swimmers from the Rutherglen club fell ill but they were fine after a couple of days."
The event, the Western Districts Open Water Swimming Championships, took place on June 23.
Adults and juniors took part in races of up to 4000 metres. Organisers had laid on a 1000-metre ‘novices’ event, for those aged 12-plus who had not tried the sport before. Juniors aged 13 to 16 raced over 2000 metres.
The NHS Lanarkshire spokesman said of the 70 people who took part in the event, 57 became unwell.
They suffered gastroenteritis and reported symptoms of abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Symptoms started on June 24 and June 25 and “tended to resolve after 24 to 36 hours”, explained the spokesman.
Norovirus – the UK’s most common stomach bug – has been identified from samples from five race participants.
Twelve of those taking part in the race were from Lanarkshire.
The spokesman added: “All participants from the event were contacted and given health advice and information about how to prevent further spread of infection. No one who became ill is known to have required admission to hospital.”
The outbreak was discussed on June 26 at a meeting attended by representatives of NHS Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water and Health Protection Scotland.
Experts believe the occurrence of illness among the participants could be linked to heavy rainfall between June 21 and June 23.
Council officials say the loch’s water was tested on June 11 and June 21.
Both tests showed that the water was “well within acceptable open water swimming guidelines”.
A North Lanarkshire Council spokesman said all water sports, including boating as well as water skiing and windsurfing, had been suspended since they learned of the illnesses arising from the open water event.
“We are working with NHS Lanarkshire and others to monitor water conditions and will publish on our website updates about activities on the loch, as they become available.”
She said the next big event at the loch – to be used in 2014 to stage the Commonwealth Games triathlon – is the Great Scottish Swim on August 25. A spokesman for Scottish Swimming said all of their open water events were subject to water quality checks.
He added: “Strathclyde Park Loch is subject to a strict and regular water quality checking regime of its own and so we had access to enhanced levels of information for this event.
“None of the reports from the tests carried out before the event indicated that there was any reason to cancel it.
“Despite all the available reports prior to the event returning results well within our parameters, we still experienced a high level of illness.”
And he added: “We are confident that what we faced at Strathclyde was an extremely rare occurrence which hasn’t previously been experienced in Scottish Open Water swimming.”
It is not the first time that there have been problems with open water swim events at the loch.
Blue green algae growth caused the cancellation of the Great Scottish Swim in August, 2010. And last summer, algae growth also put a stop to water sports activities at the loch – two months before the start of the International Children’s Games.
lDid you fall ill after taking part in the event. Contact John Rowbotham on 01698 205165 or email email@example.com