Dozens of people fell sick from a bacterial illness after visiting a Kansas waterpark.
In two separate incidents, visitors at the Tanganyika Wildlife Park’s splash pad attractions reported getting sick with ‘acute gastrointestinal sickness,’ a recent study from the (CDC) found.
On June 11, 2021, at least 21 people got sick with an illness caused by the Shigella bacteria. On June 18 that same year, another six were infected with norovirus.
The later reported that another 36 people reported illness, but none were confirmed to test positive for Shigella or norovirus.
The rare Shigella bacteria is only spread through nonhuman primates, the CDC said.
However, the only primate available for direct interaction at the park that June were lemurs, who are not known to carry the bacteria.
Shortly after the outbreaks, three lawsuits were filed, including one filed by an angry mother after her and her three children got sick.
Plaintiff Elena Davis claims that the park’s splash pads were unsanitary and that the park did not warn them in reasonable amount of time after it new about the outbreaks.
One of these lawsuits was settled out of court.
The CDC study placed the blame primarily on the splash pad attraction, which it said are marketed toward younger children – who are much more likely to get sick with gastrointestinal illnesses.
They are also much more likely to contaminate water and ingest recreational water.
Splash pads are also not typically regulated and inspected like other water park attractions such as swimming pools, the report notes.
Matt Fouts, director of the Tanganyika Wildlife, told they had no additional incidents with the splash park since the outbreaks last June.
‘We took the situation seriously and found ways to enhance our system and processes,’ he said.
The CDC recommended splash pad attractions come with the following warnings: ‘Don’t get in the water if sick with diarrhea,’ ‘Don’t stand or sit above the jets,’ and ‘Don’t swallow the water.’
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