Officials issue warning after finding elevated E. coli levels at Smithville Lake beach

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SMITHVILLE, Mo. -- Clay County Parks is advising people not to swim at Camp Branch Beach because of elevated E. coli levels. The beach is on Smithville Lake.

Weekly testing showed the E. coli level is more than three times higher than the maximum allowed amount. Park rangers said heavy rain is behind the increase.

Michael Onder and his wife brought their grandchildren to Camp Branch Beach on Monday. But they decided not to stay once they heard about the elevated E. coli levels.

"Now the kids are all bummed. You have to do something or they're gonna be disappointed," Michael Onder said.

E. coli bacteria naturally occurs in some bodies of water. According to the CDC, most strains are harmless, but some can make you sick.

Adults usually get over E. coli infections in about a week. But for young children and older adults, E. coli exposure can lead to life threatening kidney failure.

"We came here last night," Onder said. "We did get in the water. Luckily people take showers and that might help you. I'd be more concerned if they drank it or took a big gulp of it."

As the water recedes, Clay County park rangers said the problem should resolve its self.

"There's nothing we can do," said John Davis, chief park ranger with Clay County Parks. "It's naturally occurring. Time will heal it."

Symptoms of E. Coli usually start three to four days after exposure, but can occur sooner. They include diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea and vomiting. The Mayo Clinic says you should see a doctor if diarrhea is persistent, severe or bloody.

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