32 Union College students sickened by diarrheal illness

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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) — At least 32 students at an upstate New York college have been diagnosed with a diarrheal illness commonly linked to contaminated lakes, streams, and wells.

The Union College students tested positive for giardiasis, while other students showed symptoms of the intestinal disease, Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, the college’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students, wrote in an email to students Friday. Students who live both on-campus and off-campus became ill.

The Schenectady school reported the first cases of the illness on Oct. 14. School officials said they are working with the local health department to try to determine the source of the disease, which is caused by the giardia parasite.

School officials said the college’s water supply tested negative for the parasite. Some students said they became ill after swimming in local bodies of water.

Brown-McClure urged students to avoid the Hans Groot’s Kill stream and the Plotterkill County Nature Preserve.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says giardiasis can be spread by swallowing Giardia from contaminated surfaces including bathroom handles, drinking contaminated water, swallowing contaminated water while swimming, and eating uncooked food containing giardia.

Symptoms including diarrhea and nausea can last two to six weeks.

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