R.B. Winter State Park

In this 2015 file photo, people enjoy the lake at R.B. Winter State Park in Union County. The lake is temporarily closed this week because of higher-than-normal bacteria levels.

FOREST HILL — Swimming is temporarily off-limits at Raymond B. Winter State Park’s Halfway Lake after water samples discovered a spike of bacteria.

Water samples taken Sunday and Monday were tested and found high levels of fecal coliform, according to Michael Crowley, park manager. Results came within the normal 48-hour period Wednesday and the swimming restriction put into effect about noon, Crowley said.

“The protocol is we shut down the beach, we take new samples. We’re driving the samples to the lab now,” Crowley said early Wednesday afternoon. “Hopefully by Friday late morning we’ll know whether or not we’ll have good water.”

“Usually after a heavy rain the numbers increase. After a couple days they drop to acceptable levels,” he said.

Crowley said there were no reports of swimmers contracting an illness.

Swimming was restricted 26 hours at the 7-acre spring-fed lake in 2015 for high levels of E. coli, a type of fecal coliform. The brief contamination was also thought to be due to runoff.

At the time, Dr. Michael Komar, director of gastroenterology with Geisinger Health System, Danville, advised anyone who develops an acute diarrheal illness or bloody diarrhea to seek prompt medical attention.

Fecal coliform comes from human waste or that of warm-blooded animals, according to Diane Oleson, water quality specialist with Penn State Extension. It can be found in runoff water from agricultural land and septic system failure, she said.

There’s a danger of stomach illness if swallowed or greater infection if it reaches open sores or cuts, Oleson said.

“When park’s post a lake for no swimming, it’s best to stay out of it,” Oleson said — adults, children and pet dogs, too.

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