Cases of a diarrheal infection and several reports from parents of sick and hospitalized children led Tanganyika Wildlife Park to close its splash zone Saturday. (Photo by Lee Jeffs/Unsplash)
TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Thursday it had identified an intestinal bacterium in cases linked to a splash zone at a wildlife park in Goddard.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park closed Saturday after several children and families reported fever, diarrhea or vomiting after a visit to the splash zone. The bacteria thought to be the cause of the rash of illnesses has been identified as Shigella, an intestinal bacterium that is easily spread.
KDHE is still working to ascertain if the bacteria from each person are related. Shigella usually spreads through exposure to feces in contaminated water, person-to-person contact or touching a contaminated item.
“Not knowing what is wrong is sometimes more stressful and scarier,” said park director Matt Fouts. “Now those that are sick can consult with their doctors to see if that is what is affecting them and get the proper treatment.”
Tanganyika Wildlife Park became aware of the link between cases and the park Friday, June 18, and began investigating that day. A survey released by KDHE for those who have experienced similar symptoms of sickness after attending the park has received more than 200 responses for further analysis.
In a Facebook post from park administrators, which attracted more than 1,400 commenters, dozens of posters said one or more members of their family were experiencing some form of illness following a visit.
A water line from the City of Goddard serves the park, but records indicate that the city is supplying compliant drinking water based on its routine monitoring. The investigation is ongoing.
The park is also facing a lawsuit filed by Wichita’s Patterson Legal Group in connection with the link between visitors to the splash park and their illnesses, according to reporting by KSN News. The suit alleges Tanganyika failed to maintain sanitation standards and did not warn guests promptly of the outbreak.
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