A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study says dozens of people got sick after visiting a splash park in Kansas, in June 2021. The place, a very popular summer destination for residents, is home to a zoo of animal exhibits as well as the Tanganyika Falls Splash Park. It attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.
As CNBC reported, the study conducted by the CDC said that 21 people contracted Shigella bacteria and six others became sick with the norovirus after visiting the splash park at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard. Another 36 people reported gastrointestinal illnesses after visiting the splash park but did not have lab tests confirming what caused their illnesses. At least four people were hospitalized afterward.
State and local health officials had said that eight people who visited the park contracted Shigella and other people tested positive for the norovirus, sapovirus, and a type of E. coli called enteropathogenic E. coli.
Most of those affected were children. The splash pad was intended for use by children under age five.
The CDC report is based on a survey of 404 people who visited the splash park in Kansas last year between May 28 and June 19.
After the incident, the park was forced to close. Visitors have also filed lawsuits against the park over the outbreak. The Tanganyika park reopened in July 2021 (one month after the health incident) after implementing new safety codes.
Shigella, Norovirus, and Sapovirus
According to CDC, an estimated 450,000 cases of shigellosis occur in the United States every year, making it the third most common bacterial enteric disease. Shigella germs are present in the stools of infected people. Transmission of Shigella occurs when people put something in their mouths or swallow something that has come into contact with the stool of someone infected with Shigella.
As for norovirus and sapovirus, the CDC says people can get them by accidentally getting tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected person in their mouth through recreational or drinking water. It can spread by having direct contact with someone who is infected with the virus, such as by caring for them or sharing food or eating utensils with them.