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Over 500 People Get Infected With E. Coli After Visit To Tennessee Zipline Park

Jul 16, 2018 07:26 PM EDT
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More than 500 people have fallen ill of gastrointestinal illness after being exposed to E. coli at a popular zipline park in Tennessee.

State health officials are currently investigating the outbreak that has a great number of visitors of CLIMB Works Zipline Canopy Tour in Gatlinburg infected with E. coli as well as norovirus.

Outbreak, Investigations At Zipline Park

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, hundreds of patients started registering positive for E. coli infection after visiting the facility since June 15. Hundreds of people have reportedly come down with norovirus, while one person have both norovirus and enteropathogenic E. coli.

"At this time we cannot point to one simple cause of this outbreak," John Dunn, DVM, PhD, deputy state epidemiologist, says in a statement. "Preliminary testing and environmental health assessments indicate the water system at the zipline facility may have contributed to the outbreak; however, there are likely other sources involved in the spread of the illnesses, including contaminated surfaces and person-to-person transmission."

Investigations are already underway with water testing revealing fecal contamination of the park's water system, Dunn continues. Enteropathogenic E. coli has also been identified.

TDH is still conducting tests on the clinical and environmental samples for bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms.

CLIMB Works Speaks Up

CLIMB Works is reportedly cooperating with the public health experts during the process.

In an email to WTVR, company owner Nick Thompson talks about the safety measures they are currently implementing to avoid further cases.

"We have implemented every recommendation from the Health Department and are currently only using complimentary bottled water for our drinking water and added an additional chlorination system for our non-potable water," Thompson wrote. "We feel awful for anyone that got sick and are asking anyone affected to contact us directly so we can help make the situation right for our guests."

Some of the guests have written public social media reviews on CLIMB Works, which the park has responded to, urging them patients to contact the facility.

About E. Coli And Norovirus

CDC says that E. coli are bacteria that can be found in the environment, food, and the intestines. There are types of E. coli that can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and others.

Meanwhile, norovirus is a contagious virus that can infect people from contact with another person, contaminated food or water, or even contaminated surfaces. It can cause stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Plenty of liquids are recommended to avoid dehydration.

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