Lake at Cowans Gap State park reopens for swimming

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FULTON COUNTY, Pa.–State officials expect to reopen the beaches this weekend at a central Pennsylvania state park after three swimmers were sickened with norovirus earlier this month.

The lake and beach at Cowans Gap State Park have been closed to swimmers since July 22. The state Department of Health received about 95 reports of people getting sick with symptoms consistent with the virus. So far, only three of those cases were confirmed as norovirus.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) closed the beaches for 10 days as a precautionary measure–though fishing and boating were still permitted.

“We have confidence that this was a short-term incident,” said Secretary of Health Karen Murphy in a statement. “In addition to the latest testing, we found that the vast majority reported having visited the beach nearly 2 weeks ago.”

The beaches will reopen Saturday, Aug. 1 for swimming, according to a news release from DCNR.

The park straddles the border of Franklin and Fulton counties and is surrounded by Buchanan State Forest.

The virus can spread from person-to-person through recreational water, food and direct contact with ill people.

Symptoms of norovirus usually begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most frequent symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, but stomach cramps and low-grade fever can also arise.  Most symptoms resolve after one to three days.