By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON March 18, 2003 Some sort of spring fever hit the Villa Roma in Callicoon last week.
The resort and hotel does regular checks of its water, and late last week their engineer discovered a bacterial agent in the well system, said General Manager Jack Kennedy.
Kennedy said their water usually tests clean, but perhaps the weather conditions added to the problem.
Especially in the spring when the runoff starts, bacteria gets into the water as a natural course of events, he said.
The state Department of Health in Monticello was immediately notified, and bottled water was placed in guest rooms throughout the hotel.
But theres also been a mysterious illness at the hotel. A convention of about 24 people from Philadelphia, Pa. came down with acute gastroenteritis on March 11, a bug Kennedy said came not from the water but the air.
One woman was violently ill on the tour bus that headed into Callicoon, and she got the entire crowd sick, he said.
Claire Pospisil, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health in Albany, said that determination would have to be made from further investigation.
Acute gastroenteritis is not a serious illness in most people, she said.
Most people who get this recover completely without any serious aftereffects, Pospisil explained.
Usually the way its spread is through close contact with an infected person, she continued. Most people usually become ill by eating or drinking infected food or water.
Whether this particular outbreak is tied to the water or an illness carried into the hotel will be investigated, she added.
Some other folks at the hotel did get sick Friday, with what Kennedy called a 24-hour bug. They fell ill Friday and were back in the dining room eating healthily by Sunday, he said.
According to Pospisil, an investigation has been initiated, and we will follow up.
Specimens were collected for bacterial and viral agents, she said.
A boil water order has also been put into effect for the hotel. Water used in the kitchens is being boiled, Kennedy said, and along with the bottled water available in the hotel is a letter explaining the Department of Healths investigation.
The order will remain in effect until two consecutive days of acceptable samples have been submitted to the Department of Health, Pospisil said.
According to Kennedy, the resort has found clean samples since Saturday, but they will continue to take tests through the rest of the week to ensure the safety of their guests and employees.