The mystery infection which saw the temporary closure of Three Pools is seemingly spreading, with bathers at the Willows resort and Pollok Beach (in Port Elizabeth) showing similar symptoms.
While Willows management – who also manage Three Pools – are holding “flying insects” responsible for the lumpy protrusions, fever and, in some cases, profuse vomiting it causes, the municipality and health department are yet to provide a definitive reason for the outbreak.
Last week, the Three Pools day camping venue near Willows was closed until further notice after the mystery infection caused more than 100 pupils from Paterson High School to fall ill and break out in itchy bumps the previous week.
Two of the pupils – cousins Mekayla Jaggers, 15, and Chloe Carels, 13 – were taken to hospital after violent vomiting.
Chloe’s mother, Megan, said yesterday that only Mekayla was still suffering from a rash, and that while the blood results revealed a viral infection, its cause remained unclear.
This came in the wake of a teacher and pupils from Chapman High School falling ill after a visit to Three Pools two weeks before the Paterson High visit.
Last week, Port Elizabeth resident Genina Hood said her toddler, Logan, broke out in a rash and high fever after swimming at Pollok Beach.
Chemaray Owen and Lee-Ann Dobson posted on Facebook that their children also had rashes and high fever last week following visits to Willows and Three Pools respectively.
Willows general manager Herman Nell said while it was not uncommon for visitors to experience insect bites as a result of the resort’s location, they had never had so many affected at once.
“The only feedback we received from the municipality and department of health following their testing is that the pool water is perfectly fine to swim in.
“We never received feedback as to the actual cause of the infections,” Nell said.
“However, we think it must be some type of flying insect – because of the bites’ positioning – which is very active lately as a result of the increased rainfall.
“At this stage we will not close Willows as we believe it was an isolated incident.
“The insect seemingly lives in damp environments, hence so many people were affected at Three Pools, which is much more damp than Willows, and we have only received one complaint from a guest at Willows.”
Hood said yesterday her oneyear-old son had since recovered from a high fever and rash, but she remained concerned that the infection could reappear in view of the similar symptoms suffered by the Paterson High pupils.
“My son was swimming in the ocean on Tuesday – by Wednesday he was running a temperature of 38.8°C and by Thursday he had broken out in a rash.
“The doctor said it was a viral infection. It was very similar to what was described by the school pupils,” she said.
Owen’s Facebook post read: “I am currently camping at Willows. Swam a bit on Thursday in the beach with my 5-year-old.
“I have bumps all over my back, bum, stomach and now getting some on my legs and shoulders and 1 on my cheek.
“It’s more swollen than a mosquito bump and some get little water bumps on top of them.
“It is so so itchy that one scratches all the time and from scratching it bleeds and it’s really not a nice feeling. My little girl only has 3 or 4 bumps.”
Department of Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo referred all questions to the municipality yesterday, saying the matter related to environmental health and was a municipal issue.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said: “We are no closer to confirming the source of the mystery outbreak and we request the marine research department of Nelson Mandela University to assist us. We are not aware of any outbreak at Something Good.”