News Release 332

Department of Natural Resources issues abatement order to Cape Girardeau County sports facility over drinking water issues

Volume 38-332 (For Immediate Release)
Contact:  Judd Slivka
573-751-1010/573-340-9DNR (9367) (after hours)

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 4, 2010 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources today issued an abatement order to Class Act Family Fitness Center, Cape Girardeau County, ordering the facility to stop providing water drawn from its well for use by the public for washing or similar contact. The department had previously issued a boil-water order for the facility.

The abatement order directs Class Act Family Fitness Center, 2336 County Road 307, Jackson, to stop providing water to the public for drinking, hand washing, showering or any similar purpose. The order does allow for the water to be used to flush toilets.

In addition to restricting the use of the water, the order also requires the facility’s operators, Shawn and Lynn McNally, to take several additional steps:

Since April 14 at least 30 people reportedly fell ill after drinking or otherwise coming into contact with the water at the facility. The department began investigating the drinking water at the site along with the Cape Girardeau County Health Department and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in early May after the pattern of illnesses emerged.

The Department of Health and Senior Services subsequently confirmed that 15 of those affected had been infected by E. coli 0157 H:7, a strain of the E. coli bacteria often connected to illness in humans.

Subsequent sampling by state and county officials confirmed the facility’s water system, including the water fountain and faucets, as a source of E. coli. The facility had posted the signs warning visitors not to drink the water, but the department determined that as recently as May 28 facility operators continued to make the water available to patrons for showering and hand washing.

The Department of Natural Resources determined that continuing to make this water available to the public for washing, including to a significant number of pre-school-age children who are unlikely to read or obey any written signs regarding the inappropriate use of the water, constituted an emergency health situation that warranted the issuance of an abatement order. The department had previously tried to work with Class Act’s owners to remedy the problems.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, including humans.  While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can cause gastrointestinal illness.  For some people, such as children, elderly or those with weakened immune systems, even low levels of these bacteria may cause illness.