At least ten people in the Baker City area have gotten sick from a parasite, according to state officials. Officials hope to confirm the source of the outbreak Saturday.
Health officials say cryptosporidium is responsible for the Baker City illnesses. It’s a parasite from fecal matter that causes vomiting and severe diarrhea.
Officials suspect Baker City’s drinking water - which comes from a mountain lake, frequented by wildlife. Water samples were sent to Seattle for testing.
The city stopped using that lake water, but state epidemiologist Emilio DeBess advises residents drink boiled or bottled water.
“The boil water recommendation is what we will maintain until we have more information - not only from the epidemiologist side, but also from the testing side,” DeBess said.
Officials say the illness is contagious - and people should wash their hands frequently.
Federal rules require four Oregon cities: Baker City, Portland, Bend, and Reedsport, to address their open drinking water sources. Baker City plans to complete a $2.5 million treatment project by 2016.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect cost for the water treatment plant.