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US authorities banned using of the affected wells water

Investigators searching for the source of an outbreak that sickened hundreds of travelers on a Lake Erie resort island are focusing on drinking water.

State environmental officials on Thursday ordered inspections of private wells to determine if they have been contaminated or have played a role in contaminating the village of Put-in-Bay's water system.

Heidi Griesmer, a state Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman, said the order was precautionary: "We don't know if there's contamination being introduced somewhere in the distribution system," she said.

Some island residents use private wells to supplement water they receive from the village, and the plumbing of both water sources in some cases is connected, reports USA Today.

A team of 30 investigators, including three from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, were trying to determine if septic systems had somehow contaminated the wells or private water systems. Meanwhile, authorities banned use of the affected wells and suggested visitors either drink bottled water or boil their well water.

Private water systems serve roughly two-thirds of the island -- which is a spit of land 1 mile wide by 4 miles long off the coast between Toledo and Cleveland. The water system for the village of Put-in-Bay was found to be safe.

The island's beaches and bars normally draw some 15,000 people on summer weekends, though officials said business was off by nearly half in recent weeks due to the outbreak, informs Reuters.

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