When news of a water crisis hit, Toledo-area hospitals saw an uptick in visitors to emergency rooms with patients complaining of symptoms that could be related to the harmful microcystin found in local water.
Christine Pangle of Rossford was one of the 25 adults who went to ProMedica Toledo Hospital’s emergency room on Saturday seeking help. The 24-year-old said she has several health issues that have compromised her immune system, so she is susceptible to toxins and viruses.
She first noticed a problem on Friday evening after eating some mashed potatoes that were boiled in water.
Health officials have said boiling the water makes matters worse, and Ms. Pangle believes that is what caused her to feel ill right away. She tried to treat her symptoms and went to bed but woke up Saturday feeling worse.
“It just felt like my stomach was a rock. Then I felt really nauseous and started vomiting, and I thought something isn’t right,” Ms. Pangle said.
Her mother, Julie Pangle, took her to Toledo Hospital about 2 p.m. Ms. Pangle said they immediately gave her fluids through an IV, and about 45 minutes later she felt better and was released to go home.
“Mycrocystin is a toxin released from the algae bloom, and that’s what’s creating the problem. You can’t use hot water to boil it because it doesn’t die that way,” said Dr. Kris Brickman, director of the University of Toledo Medical Center’s emergency department. He said the only treatment is to give the patients fluids and wait for their systems to flush out.
Ms. Pangle said the doctors never identified the source of her problem. “They labeled it uncertain,” she said.
ProMedica officials said they also treated 16 children at Toledo Hospital by about 6 p.m., along with five adult patients at Flower Hospital and 10 at St. Luke’s Hospital.
The Toledo Hospital emergency room was busier than usual in the morning. After people heard the media reports about the problem, some patients came in because they were just worried, but most cases were not very serious, said Beth Estep, the emergency room director.
Mercy Health System emergency rooms also treated 28 patients who were concerned they had ingested some of the contaminated water. By early evening, 12 patients had visited St. Anne’s Hospital, nine went to St. Charles Hospital, and seven to St. Vincent Medical Center.
UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, treated about 16 patients in the emergency department with problems related to the water ban.
“Some of the patients drank coffee that morning and they were concerned, but it turned out they were fine. There was one patient that came into the ER to be treated because he had gotten into a fight at Walmart over water,” Dr. Brickman said.
None of the hospitals reported admitting any patients with serious symptoms.
The Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner, Dr. David Grossman, said the number of people coming into ERs with stomach complaints Saturday was unusual, but he said it is very difficult to determine whether their problems were caused the toxin or some other issue.
Hospital officials also reported that the water restrictions did not disrupt the patients or the staff at their facilities. All of the area hospitals have back-up water systems for these types of emergencies.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.