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Everest Academy is a ministry of Everest Family Church in Hayden. We offer freedom along with quality resources, information, activities and support to those homeschooling in Alabama. We believe that the parent has the best interests of their children at heart. We believe that the parent is the first and only teacher that a child needs. In keeping with this philosophy, we wish to be a very hands-off cover school and allow the parent to lead and guide their children in the direction and at the pace they feel is best suited to their children. We ask only for what the law requires while offering support along with quality resources to aid families in their efforts.

Alabama Health Department Press Release

















Update:  Second results are in.  Test results from one of the children that was hospitalized show:










Aeromonas hydrophila is a species of bacterium that is present in all freshwater environments and in brackish water. Some strains of A. hydrophila are capable of causing illness in fish and amphibians as well as in humans who may acquire infections through open wounds or by ingestion of a sufficient number of the organisms in food or water.


Aeromonas hydrophila is not as pathogenic to humans as it is to fish and amphibians. One of the diseases it can cause in humans is gastroenteritis. This disease can affect anyone, but it occurs most in young children and people who have compromised immune systems or growth problems. This bacterium is linked to two types of gastroenteritis. The first type is a disease similar to cholera, which causes rice-water diarrhea. The other type of disease is dysenteric gastroenteritis, which causes loose stools filled with blood and mucus. Dysenteric gastroenteritis is the most severe out of the two types, and can last for multiple weeks. Aeromonas hydrophila is also associated with cellulitis, an infection that causes inflammation in the skin tissue. It also causes diseases such as myonecrosis and eczema in people with compromised immune systems.


May 27
Everest Academy
End of the Year Party

Results as of June 1, 2010
Total sick to our knowledge:  96
Total sick from Everest Academy:  84 - 3 hospitalized
Total sick (that we know of) not from Everest Academy: 12 (10 children, 2 adults, and 1 hospitalized)
From Everest Academy (84):
Children:  80
Adults:  4
Did not eat from potluck:  25
Swam in the water:  84

Note:  These are only the ones that we know about.  We have spoken to the ADPH, and they have confirmed that there were others outside of Everest Academy reported sick; however, they would not release any information or confirm any number.  I do not have any information about the 12 listed above other than it was a kayaker from Wednesday, a fisherman, and 9 children (1 hospitalized but don't know where).  I have also heard rumor of a school group that was there earlier in the week.

Incident Report:
Let me catch everyone up to speed. Thursday, May 27, Everest Academy had a HUGE End of the Year Party at Oak Mountain. It was great!  We had a BLAST!  We were picnicking and swimming at the public beach area of Oak Mountain State Park. We had about 300 people present. Friday night our children became violently ill. I don't mean "normal" sick. I mean in the fetal position, not making it to the restroom, messy sick. 

My initial feeling was that it must be food poisoning because the first two sick in my house (my daughter and a friend) had eaten something different than the rest of us the night before.  Oak Mountain did not even cross my mind at that point.  Later that night, my son, who had not eaten the same thing as the first two, also became violently ill, so at that point I started thinking maybe it was something they had eaten at Oak Mountain.  

My family was supposed to be attending an equestrian camp that weekend with a bunch of homeschoolers, so I called the camp the next morning to let them know that we would not be there, and the camp director told me that several of the other homeschoolers were sick as well.  I got on Facebook and sent a message out to the group asking if any of them had sick kids, and a ton of people starting saying they all had sick KIDS as well.  Odd?  No adults?  In conversation on Facebook, I mentioned something about the potluck dinner, and that is when people started saying it couldn't be that for their family because they had brought their own lunch that day.  Hmmm....  The weirdest thing about the whole thing was that it was just the kids...  Could it be the water, since most of the adults were not swimming that day?  Surely not!  My family has swam at Oak Mountain many times and never had a problem.  So I did a survey to the whole group with MANY variables listed, such as "what part of the state are you from?", "are you an adult or child?", "did you eat from the potluck?", and lastly "did you swim in the lake?"  We did not automatically, as has been suggested, just point fingers at the water.  This was a process of elimination.  We received approximately 200 of the surveys back, and it soon became very evident that the only thing that 100% of the sick had in common was the lake water.  We even went back later and asked about ice useage from the school cooler and about using the restroom facilities.  Still the only common variable was the lake water.  

Families started contacting Oak Mountain, of course, and the employees at Oak Mountain were not very receptive AT ALL.  They were very dismissive, very rude, even went so far as to hang up on people, etc.  I was finally able to talk to Vicky Nelson, Oak Mountain Park Superintendent.  She was very nice and said they would test the water "when they could find the naturalist".   Huh?  Finally we got the answer that they would test the water on Tuesday.  This conversation was taking place on Saturday.  They were going to let people swim in that water all the way through the busy holiday weekend without even testing the water.  I don't think so.  We finally convinced them to go ahead and test the water; although, Ms. Nelson told us that the tests would probably be inconclusive or faulty due to the heavy rain since Thursday.  The results would not be in until Tuesday, and they were still going to keep the beach open even though we gave them access to the surveys we had taken and they were aware that there MAY be something in the water considering that 100% of the sick children had played in the water.  I'm sorry, but that is not very responsible thinking as far as I am concerned, and that is when this whole crazy whirlwind began.  It was not because there might be something in the water.  We could accept that and realize that these things happen.  It began because Oak Mountain did not choose to put the public's safety at the top of their priority list, and that was unacceptable to us.  We could not allow the public not to know something was going on and bring their kids swimming all weekend long and risk someone becoming violently ill.  


Oak Mountain justified all of the above by stating that they interviewed people who were staying there and they were all fine and that the water test all came up clean.  What they are not telling you is that according to Vicky Nelson, Oak Mountain Park Superintendent,   is that they were interviewing people from the campground area which is on the opposite end of the park and on a DIFFERENT lake.  Vicky Nelson was also aware that the tests would probably not be accurate because of the rains but still chose to keep the beach open. 

Since this has all became public, there are more and more people coming forward reporting that they were there during the same week, but not all on the same day, and they are sick as well.  We know of at least one kayaker that was there the day before our group was there, and I have heard a whisper about a school group that was there earlier in the week as well.  The beach was never shut down.  The water results came back negative for E. Coli and Salmonella; however, it rained several days in between making the tests unreliable.  A stool sample of one of the hospitalized children came back positive for norovirus which is caused by human fecal matter being in the water.  You can draw your own conclusions from that.  I know there have been witnessed episodes of people bathing in the water, defecating on the beach, and cleaning out cloth diapers in the water.  None of which did I know about before allowing my children in the water.  It is now also my understanding that the restroom facilities are on a septic system which would have bleed out.  I don't think someone having an "accident" in the water or not wiping their hiney well enough would have caused  95 people (possibly more) to have gotten sick when they were spread up and down the beach and only there for a few hours.  It has to be something bigger than that.  I am sure at this point that Oak Mountain will take care of this problem, albeit on the down low, and we may never know what happened, but the point is something was in the water, Oak Mountain chose to not address the problem, and they possibly allowed 1000s more to be exposed due to their refusal to close the beach.  

Press Release from ADPH:

Interesting Fact: This release was not sent to the sick who had been working with ADPH but to the media who forwarded it to Everest Academy. There are two releases listed below; the first is the original release in full, and the second includes notes in red added by Deb Spradlin, Everest Academy Administrator, and were not part of the original press release sent out by the ADPH. 

Staff from ADPH, working in conjunction with ADCNR, is investigating reports of illness among visitors to Oak Mountain State Park. Symptoms included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Several ill persons required medical attention. Norovirus, a common cause of gastrointestinal illness, was detected in a specimen from one ill person. Cases occurred primarily among visitors to the park on Thursday, May 27. Based on the ongoing investigation, swimmers that day were more likely to contract illness than non-swimmers. 

Tests are being conducted on water from the swimming area to assure it meets usual standards of quality. Results from the three tests that ADCNR have done on the lake water for E. coli have come back normal. Additional tests will be conducted by ADPH.

"We regret persons became ill while visiting Oak Mountain State Park and hope all soon recover," says Karen Sullivan, ADPH surveillance nurse. "At this point it appears norovirus was somehow introduced in the swimming water on Thursday and swimmers subsequently were exposed. Although the investigation is ongoing, there is no evidence that a person is at risk of getting sick from swimming in the lake now."

Norovirus is a common viral cause of gastrointestinal illness. The virus is highly infectious, and symptoms usually last 1 to 3 days. Persons should seek medical attention if their illness worsens despite treatment at home. 

Karen T. Sullivan R.N.
Area V Surveillance Nurse
Office: 205-812-7720
Fax: 205-338-8647

Deb's Notes:  Staff from ADPH, working in conjunction with ADCNR, is investigating reports of illness among visitors to Oak Mountain State Park.  Symptoms included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Several ill persons required medical attention. (3 were hospitalized and many more went to the ER and private doctors) Norovirus, a common cause of gastrointestinal illness, was detected in a specimen from one ill person.  Cases occurred primarily (but not exclusively) among visitors to the park on Thursday, May 27.  (I know there was a kayaker from the day before.  I have also heard there was a local school group earlier in the week having an end of the year party who have had several reported sick.)  Based on the ongoing investigation, swimmers that day were more likely to contract illness than non-swimmers. (Side note:  100% of the Everest Academy students who became ill had played in the water all up and down the beach.  It has been confirmed by ADPH that there were others outside of the Everest Academy group reported sick; however, they will not release the number to the public.)

Tests are being conducted on water from the swimming area to assure it meets usual standards of quality.  Results from the three tests that ADCNR have done on the lake water for E. coli have come back normal.  Additional tests will be conducted by ADPH.  (That's good, and I appreciate that, but I wonder how effective that will be this long after the event and considering there have been several days of heavy rain since.  Also of note, norovirus has already been found, not E. Coli or Salmonella, so it doesn't matter what these tests say unless they are looking for something in ADDITION to what has already been found.)

"We regret persons became ill while visiting Oak Mountain State Park and hope all soon recover," says Karen Sullivan, ADPH surveillance nurse.  "At this point it appears norovirus was somehow introduced in the swimming water on Thursday (Then how do they explain the sick kayaker on Wednesday?  Time travel perhaps?) and swimmers subsequently were exposed.  Although the investigation is ongoing, there is no evidence that a person is at risk of getting sick from swimming in the lake now."  (Norovirus is caused by fecal matter.  Some have pointed out that Oak Mountain is on a septic system which would most certainly have run off.  There have also been reports of people bathing, defecating, allowing their animals to defecate, and people emptying cloth diapers in the water.  This would not be happening if rules were enforced and the beach supervised.) 

Norovirus is a common viral cause of gastrointestinal illness.  The virus is highly infectious, and symptoms usually last 1 to 3 days.  Persons should seek medical attention if their illness worsens despite treatment at home. 

Karen T. Sullivan R.N.
Area V Surveillance Nurse
Office: 205-812-7720
Fax: 205-338-8647


Email sent in to an Everest Family on June 1, 2010:  "I typed kids get sick at oak mountain and your post came up. My son also became ill after a friday morning trip to the beach at oak mountain, High fever, diarrhea, fatigue. We found out today that he has strep throat and his doctor said that a few other families that had gone at the latter end of last week came in today reporting problems. I reported this to officials at Oak mountain and my son's Dr says they will be reporting all incidents of sickness they see to the Department of Health. Hopefully Oak Mountain will take this more seriously with families not related to the other group coming forward!  


Email sent to Everest Academy on May 31, 2010:  
Hi, My name is Rachel. I am one of the other parents, whose kids got sick, that was not with your group. I had blogged on 
al.com and was asked to contact you. I was told by ADPH that it was Noro Virus. (edited to exclude personal contact info)
Sincerely,
Rachel King












Two more people I know became sick after visditing the park. They were at a boy scout camp out with our church and got sick the next night. They were there on Friday after we were there that thursday. I know that one got sick before they swam so I do not know if it was connected but thought id pass this on.
Thanks for all you do.
Victoria Isbell   














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Posted by rlabham
June 01, 2010, 12:40PM
I went with a separate group of four this weekend (5/30). None of us swam or even went near the water. We camped at the primitive camping site on Sunday night and I woke up at 2 A.M. and threw up 9 times and had to leave. I still can't eat and feel very weak after 2 days. I know that Oak Mountain can't control everything, but why didn't they let us know at the front gate or campground, that all these people had been sick? We had no idea!!?? I later found out my sister had taken her newborn there and I had to call her and let her know about all of this and tell her to leave!! I love the park and have been going there for 20 years. I just think it was very irresponsible of them to keep this from their visitors and to put all of us at risk.

Posted by kstaples05
June 01, 2010, 7:05PM
I took my son to Oak Mountain Friday morning, by Friday night he had a 105 degree fever and diarrhea started soon after. Found out today that he has strep throat and it all started after we left the beach at oak mountain. I am in no way affiliated with Everest Academy, and did not even go on the same day... My son's doctor has encountered SEVERAL families today whose children have become ill after a visit to Oak Mountain at the end of last week . Just a warning to all those doubting the seriousness and validity of this claim. I found it to be a little odd too in the beginning, but after leaving my child's doctor, I do believe that there is, or at the very least was an issue with the water.


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Lisa - We were there on Monday... 3 days before the party and waded and swam for 30 minutes... we had an awful stomach upset.. we did not know it was from the water... I guess we know now !!!


Update on Ellen Potter, hospitalized:
I just spoke with Julie who is still in Chattanooga. They were there for a week long visit with family in the area. Both of her girls got sick shortly after arriving Friday 5/28 (day after the party). Julie & her mom ended up with it, too. By Sunday, the girls were feeling much better and all were trying to relax & enjoy the rest of their visit.
Sometime this past Sunday, a week later, Ellen (the oldest daughter, ~9yo) began developing small red "bumps" under the skin on her legs, which soon began turning purple/blue like bruising. They took her to the ER and--here's the scariest part--the Dr' thought she had leukemia. They did all kinds of test, including a bone marrow test, and thankfully found no cancer. It was discovered that this was a reaction to the virus she had gotten at Oak Mtn. She had developed ITP* which is a blood disease causing the blood to not clot. The Dr's think this was triggered due to complications from the virus--her immune system confused the virus with her own blood platelets and began attacking and destroying them. She received anti-body treatment and was released from the hospital yesterday--under strict orders to avoid any activities that could possibly cause an injury. The worst part for Ellen is that she feels fine but can't even go out and ride a bike. :-(

Julie said they will revisit the hematologist in Chattanooga on Friday and hope to be released to return home. Once home they will have to follow up with a hematologist in the B'ham area, and it may take 6 mos to 1 year before everything is completely back to normal!

So, here we go with the first reports of residual problems from this issue with Oak Mtn that--in their opinion--was no big deal. Julie is not sure if they had the norovirus or the Aeromonas hydrophila (or possibly even something else) since they didn't go to the hospital until after they were over the Oak Mtn "ick". They are obviously thrilled that it was not leukemia but are still very irritated that Oak Mtn did not take this more seriously, since this proves that there can be complications for someone who was a perfectly healthy person before the incident.

Please keep the Potter family in your thoughts and prayers for an uncomplicated and quick recovery from this ordeal!

*ITP: 
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Itp/ITP_WhatIs.html


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