Zumbrota, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota Department of Health has now identified at least 72 people who have become ill from a parasitic infection associated with an area campground. There were just three confirmed cases last week when the department issued a call to hear from anyone who had visited the Shades of Sherwood Campground near Zumbrota during the month of July.

“Clearly there was contamination associated with this site and transmission has been occurring for some time,” said MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann. “We cannot say for certain what the original source of contamination may have been, but we have evidence that ill people were swimming in the facility’s various water features while still shedding the pathogens and reintroducing them into the features over time. That is why it is so important for people to not swim anywhere while they have diarrhea or for two weeks after symptoms of infection with cryptosporidiosis or STEC have stopped.”

Officials say the owner of the popular campground has taken several steps recommended by the health department to lessen the risk of exposure to the parasite responsible for the gastrointestinal sickness known as Cryptosporidiosis. The swimming pool was closed and treated with high doses of chlorine, signs have been posted warning anyone who has experienced diarrhea within two weeks not to go swimming, and the man-made pond that houses a waterpark at the campground has been closed to swimming.

The 72 cases of the waterborne illness identified by the Department of Health involve people who reported experiencing diarrhea or vomiting for at least 3 days. The first case involved a person who became ill on July 1st, and the most recent illness started on August 3rd.

Over the past 10-years, the Minnesota Department of Health has responded to just over 50 outbreaks of waterborne illness that have sickened close to 700 people. About half of the outbreaks were blamed on the Cryptosporidium parasite, which is usually introduced into a body of water through fecal material.